Berkshire councils say Environment Agency laws costly

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Recycling laws increase the amount of waste sent to landfill and cost more than £150,000 a year, three Berkshire councils have claimed.

Bracknell Forest Council, Wokingham Borough Council and Reading Borough Council currently compost leaves collected from streets and gullies.

Environment Agency (EA) rules state this process is potentially dangerous, particularly when used to grow food.

The EA said it reminded councils of the existing guidelines in August.

A spokesperson said: "Using waste that's contaminated, like street sweepings that are covered in oil, could pose a risk to the environment and to people's health."

'Usual nonsense'

Councillor Angus Ross, who is in charge of recycling at Wokingham Council, said they would be forced to send more to landfill.

It will cost £150,000 a year for landfill taxes between the three councils - money which could be spent on other services, he said.

Mr Ross said the councils would challenge the guidelines.

"We would like to find some way of testing the street sweepings so that either by directly, or after some treatment, we can take it to composting," he said.

Director of the Association for Organic Recycling, Charlie Trousdel, said he thought the EA was being "over cautious".

He said: "It's the usual nonsense that comes out of the EA to be totally frank - they panic on a number of things and adopt an over-cautionary principle."

Mr Trousdel said he agreed there were contaminants such as oils in gully sweepings, but that he believed leaves would be "perfectly acceptable".

The EA said it wanted to help the councils and added "if councils show how they could prevent contaminating compost then we will look at their evidence".

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