NEARLY a quarter of a million pounds is to be spent “urgently” in a race against time to start work on overhauling a rubbish dump.
Work to revamp the waste transfer station is required so that it can handle food waste as well as recycling materials left at the kerbside and collected by council crews.
Torfaen Borough Council is already having to use £324,000 from its reserves to maintain separate cardboard collections through to September next year – despite having spent £2.7 million on 19 new refuse trucks – as it currently can’t take and sort the combined food and recycling collections in one location.
Its long term plan has been to do so at the Ty Coch waste transfer station in Llantarnam, Cwmbran – but needs to redesign the site so it is suitable for what is known as bulking and bailing the various waste ready to be sent off-site to recycling processors.
The plans are central to the council meeting the target of recycling 70 per cent of all waste by 2025. It has also proposed monthly rubbish collections as another measure to boost recycling rates that are currently below target.
The Welsh Government has indicated it is willing to fund the £2 million costs of overhauling the waste transfer station but hasn’t yet guaranteed the funding.
But the council must start work on the project before December 11 this year, when the five year planning permission will expire.
Council environmental director Rachel Jowitt is therefore recommending Cllr Sue Morgan, the cabinet member for resources, should approve spending £245,397 from reserves to start pre-construction work and appoint a preferred contractor, with a tender exercise having already been run.
The report warns if there is a delay in starting the project the council could risk missing the December 11 deadline, which would likely result in further costs.
“Should this date be missed a new planning consent will be required which will have a significant impact on programme and cost,” Ms Jowitt has written in her report and warned: “It is critical that internal funding is in place as a matter of urgency so a preferred contractor can be appointed.”
Her report acknowledges there is a risk the Welsh Government may not agree to the funding and the council could then decide to call a halt to the project, without being responsible for the further construction costs. If the £2 million is approved, as expected, it will also cover the £245,397 spent on pre-construction.
Cllr Morgan is being recommended to approve the spending when she considers the proposal on Tuesday, February 28.