Islanders Set To Hear Whether Pendrathen Will Be Waste Site

Pendrathen quarry

Pendrathen quarry

Councillors will hear whether Pendrathen and Porth Wreck will become refuse sites next week.

The General Purposes meeting on Thursday will hear the recommendations from Council consultants SLR.

It’s the first output from the public consultation earlier this year on the use of Pendrathen and Porth Wreck as potential refuse sites.

That culminated in an angry meeting on March 26th, where both residents and councillors voiced their mistrust of certain officers in handling the issue.

The Council says the report will be presented at the meeting by Andy Street from SLR, although this hasn’t been made public yet.

Councils are obliged by law to make reports available at least 3 days before meetings.

The agenda also reveals that an SLR employee, Mike Hession, has been appointed as ‘Interim Compliance Officer’ for the operation of the Moorwell incinerator.

It says that the Environment Agency has been bringing increasing pressure on the Council to improve the operation of the plant and the move is “absolutely essential” to avoid prosecution by the agency.

Ray Wornes lives at McFarland’s Down and has been a vocal opponent of plans to dump inert waste at Pendrathen.

He was involved in the public enquiry in 1987, which ruled out the use of that area for dumping, and he’s astonished that the Council has recommended it again.

He claims there’s been no discussion with senior Council officers since the March meeting, and says he hopes common sense will prevail and they’ll rule out the use of these sites

Ray believes the Council needs to look again at recycling more material and transporting it to the mainland for treatment. He’s spoken to local authorities who recycle 70% of their household waste, something he alleges SLR told him couldn’t be done here, and says there is more than enough freight capacity on the Gry Maritha.

And he wants the Council to think again about having kerbside recycling collections, something ruled out in the initial consultation.

Ray says they need to go back to square one and look at every aspect of the process, including waste incineration.

That creates pollution, he says, and uses up tonnes of fuel, which is environmentally unfriendly and costs the Council over £100,000 a year.

Ray is hoping that Pendrathen could be cleaned and put to more productive use. He says it’s one of the best places to watch the sun going down on St Mary’s and believes it could be turned into an open-air theatre to rival Cornwall’s famous Minack Theatre.

The General Purposes Meeting takes place on Thursday at 6.30pm.



13 Responses to Islanders Set To Hear Whether Pendrathen Will Be Waste Site

  1. Peter Laverock July 1, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    To Peter D, I would say it’s not ‘quite straightforward’ to rely on a Committee Chairman as the sole authority to postpone a decision. Why rely on the opinion of a single Councillor, especially in a local authority where all the Members are independents?

    The management of the council has for years resisted the idea of Cabinets and Scrutiny Committees, which is the normal decision making structure in English local authorities. But by resisting reform, Scilly has the worst of both worlds; a de facto cabinet consisting of the powerful chairmen of big spending committees and an almost total absence of any formal scrutiny.

    There are only three meetings of each committee per year and the Chairman controls the agenda without having to consult with anyone. The General Purposes committee under Councillor Ticehurst went on for years without having the Waste Management Strategy regularly on the agenda. Fire Brigade performance and Airport issues were on every agenda as routine items, but not waste.

    Structural change is needed at the Council to protect and enhance democracy. It will sleepwalk into another managerial dictatorship if all that happens this year is to swap out one Chief Executive and crane in another.

  2. Peter D July 1, 2013 at 10:58 am

    It’s really upto the Chairman as to what happens at the meeting, and what decisions are taken.

    It may be that SLRs presentation is quite straightforward, with no real expansion on what is already known. Or it may be that they bring signifcant detail to the table and huge decisions need to be made. In which case the Chairman can simply say “no decision will be made today”.

    It really is quite straightforward.

  3. Mark Prebble July 1, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Peter’s insight into the role of an elected councillor is pleasantly succinct and his comments regarding the inability of officers to fulfil their legal duties, serve as a reminder that there is still an unwillingness on the part of some of them, to support the community in facing one of the biggest challenges these islands face.

    The decision to push ahead with the plan for a new incinerator is surely one that requires a reasoned and comprehensive public debate that allows the people of these islands to endorse any decision that their elected representatives make on their behalf.

    The information and views contained in the consultants report are integral to this debate and the fact that we the public, have not been allowed access to them so that we can lobby our councillors to represent our views smacks of an arrogant attitude and blatant disregard for the democratic process.

  4. Peter Laverock June 30, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that reports should be published at least three days before a meeting. FIVE CLEAR DAYS is what is required by the Local Government Act of 1972. You can bring urgent items to committee (which was a frequent practise in the days of the previous Chief Exec) but the committee chairman has to explain why the urgent business is genuinely urgent. A report of a public consultation which took place months ago cannot reasonably be classed as ‘urgent’. A giant pothole appearing in the road, the insolvency of a major council contractor, a shipwreck – that’s urgent.

    Scilly Today readers can see that there are not ‘five clear days’ left before the General Purposes Committee on Thursday. It has to be working days, so not Sunday, and they do not include the day of the meeting.

    Late reports serve only one purpose, they are useful to officers in railroading difficult issues through committee. Elected councillors are thereby prevented from doing their job of listening to the public, asking questions, deciding their position and voting.

    Presentations to committees by consultants also raise problems because the verbal parts of the presentation, and the Powerpoint slides, can differ from the written report. For example, if a consultant pledges not to put waste in a certain location, but only does this verbally at the meeting, it does not carry the same weight and clarity as a written statement in a report. This leads to endless arguments over the minutes which further gum up the workings of democracy.

    I raised the issue of late reports many times while I was Committee Secretary of the Council but never managed to persuade the Chief Officers to kick the habit. I was not advocating any increase to the volume of work of hard pressed senior officers, only for producing the same information to committee a bit earlier. The publication deadlines set out in law are there for the benefit of our democratic system – and those who readily resort to the law on other matters when it suits them should take note.

    Local Government Act 1972

    100B Access to agenda and connected reports.

    Sect E

    (3)Any document which is required by subsection (1) above to be open to inspection shall be so open at least five clear days before the meeting,

    • Andy Hargreaves June 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      Hi Peter. Thanks for this very clear post.

      You are correct. The original provision (Local Government Act 1972) was five days, which was revised to three days by the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985, then moved back to five days by The Local Authorities (Access to Meetings and Documents) Order 2002.

      All very confusing (!) but it means the Council should have provided access last Thursday. We emailed them to request a copy of the report and have not had a reply yet.

      Andy Hargreaves (Editor)

  5. Alistair Robinson June 29, 2013 at 12:02 am

    I recently made a long-awaited return to Scilly, having been a regular visitor as a child holidaying on the Isles. I currently live in a rural part of Cheshire and was astounded at the beauty of the Isles being exactly as I remembered, and my partner (on her first ever visit) was blown away that this was still the UK we were visiting! Bill, whilst I agree to elements of your post, you make Scilly sound like one big tip! We did not notice much to turn our noses up to and I even saw the very ‘in your face’ “no buts, no ifs” campaign posters about cigarette ends. However, we get hammered for recycling up here, with more bins than you can shake a stick at for different things. Whilst we appreciated that the geography of being an island lends a unique set of challenges, we were amazed (and felt guilty!) that all of the rubbish from our stay – paper, plastic, even glass, was just shoved in one dust bin. The only two recycling bins were in town and neither catered for plastic. I know glass bottle re-use is encouraged but it’s far from practical, far from ideal and surely unsustainable? And I fail to see how landfill could be an answer. Surely time to pay up and ship recycling to the mainland?

  6. jenny green June 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    I do not accept it is the Government’s responsibility to sort out and pay for the Isles of Scilly rubbish problem. It is everyone on these Isles’ responsibility to work together to address the problem. Recycling, composting, waste separation, the installation of food disposal units and the production of paper brickets for all the waste paper are worth consideration . The Isles of Scilly have received more grants per head of population than all other socially and economically deprived areas in the UK. For some reason grant obsession on the Isles have focused on obtaining grant for projects such as Porthcressa and turning the old Wholesalers site into more work units, without addressing essential infrastructure issues like our rubbish.

  7. Bill Hiner June 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Does anyone know how our glass and tins are recycled at present?
    Secondly, I find it a bit surprising that so many folk here are quite rightly concerned about this issue, but at the same time seem to not notice the litter dropping, fly-tipping (as at the rear of Museum Flats), over flowing waste bins, dog-ends outside of pubs and hotels, broken glass and crockery at the re-cycling bins etc etc. I’m afraid these islands are light years behind in attitude regarding waste and litter.
    As for road side recycling-a number of residents can’t grasp the idea of gull-proof bins for their domestic waste, let alone be introduced to something new!
    To encourage proper recycling habits, we need a new ethos regarding this issue, and to begin with, can we not ask for the awful set of bins behind the council building to be replaced with modern grown-up versions that are shielded from view? We must make recycling a pleasure, not a chore!

  8. Mary Ratcliffe June 28, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Well spoken George and well done Ray for not giving up on this issue.

  9. Mark Prebble June 28, 2013 at 10:05 am

    George, the government is acting by providing money for the Council to spend on what it considers the best option.
    The problem is that they have yet to ask the people of these islands what they think might be the best long term sustainable solution to dealing with the rubbish we all make.
    The 2009 strategy needs revisiting and a proper consultation with the community needs to take place.
    Do we need an incinerator? How much will it cost? What happens if we recycle more?

  10. Mark Prebble June 28, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Ray’s concerns regarding the continued pursuit of a new incinerator are shared by many in the community and his sound approach to addressing the problems of waste management on Scilly is to be commended .

    The SLR briefing to the council can be found here.
    committees.scilly.gov.uk/documents/s12225/waste%20strategy%20update.pdf

    • Andy Hargreaves June 28, 2013 at 11:16 am

      Hi Mark. Thanks for posting the link.

      We’re keen to see the report mentioned on page 2 of that briefing document which SLR say will be presented at Thursday’s meeting…

      “A report on the consultation process, along with key conclusions and recommendations, has been prepared, and will be presented at the General Purposes Committee meeting on 4th July.”

      By law, the Council needs to publish any written reports presented at meetings at least 3 days before that meeting so people can read it, and make representations to their councillors if necessary.

  11. George Kershaw June 28, 2013 at 9:14 am

    The only real solution to our waste problem is to send it to a proper recycling centre on the mainland where it can all be delt with properly.
    It is just not an option to fill up old quarrys with rubbish in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
    How is this even something that can possibly be being discussed?
    Surely it obvious that recycling needs to happen on St Marys and any waste that we can’t handle should be removed to a place where they can deal with it properly.
    The government have a responsibility for this as we are part of the UK, if they had the Moorwell Alp dumped in a field somewhere on the mainland they sure as hell would have had it sorted out years ago as a matter of urgency, what is the problem here
    Oh yes money but yet they find millions of pounds for things we don’t need.
    We need government action now to sort out this huge ongoing problem.
    Dumping it anywhere on our doorstep in not an option!