Waste company Kier has said Rother councillors cannot visit a Swanley recycling plant processing East Sussex’s waste.
Rother Environmental Group (REG), who asked to visit the Swanley site in Kent, was told that even Rother councillors and officials could not visit it.
Rother’s new waste and recycling scheme starts in Rye on June 30, and some recycling will go to Ideal Waste Paper in Swanley.
Kier has a £32m 10-year waste-and-recycling contract, estimated to save four East Sussex councils (Hastings, Eastbourne, Wealden and Rother) up to £30m. Kier and Ideal said that although councillors cannot visit the site, they would provide a video instead about how the waste is recycled.
REG chairman, Dominic Manning, asked Rother council leader Carl Maynard whether Ideal “have something to hide”, as there were concerns that recycled waste just ended up “in landfill or being incinerated”.
Councillor Maynard said, “It is in the interest of Kier to sell as much recycling as possible as they receive the income generated from its sale”. He also outlined the monitoring carried out by Defra, the government department for the environment, food and rural affairs.
Kier stated that the Swanley site is not set up for public visits. However, Mr Manning expressed concern that the council was taking too much on trust. He said that other similar recycling sites at Brighton and Uckfield can be visited on request.
Mr Manning added, “It is well publicised that the authority overlooking the processing of waste, the Environment Agency, has seen cuts to its funding and resources diverted to flood protection. At the same time, local authorities like Rother are needing to cut costs and now rely more than ever on private contractors to provide their services.
“REG supports Rother district council’s drive to increase recycling and would welcome the opportunity to visit Ideal’s Swanley site to view it first hand”.