The equivalent to almost 30,000 tonnes of water-damaged household goods have had to be dumped in landfill sites after the winter floods, new research reveals.
A snapshot analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, estimates local authorities have so far been landed with a bill of more than £2.25 million in landfill tax as a result. Any items affected by flood water, following the devastation wreaked by storms Desmond and Frank in areas like Lancashire and Cumbria, cannot be recycled as they are classed as ‘contaminated’ and have to be taken to landfill.
The LGA is calling for all landfill tax, which is calculated at just over £82 per tonne, to be returned to local taxpayers to be invested back in to projects that will support local jobs and growth, rather than go to the Treasury. The call comes as communities are still battling to recover from the severe storms they have suffered over the Christmas period. The LGA also hopes the Government will be applying for EU solidarity funding to help those communities who have been affected.
Councils have visited flood-hit areas to collect household items such as carpets and furniture and dispose of them. So far, an average1.66 tonnes of household goods and freezer waste has had to be removed from each of the 16,500 homes and businesses that have been flooded, the LGA estimates.
Staff have worked tirelessly with volunteers and local community groups to help areas recover from the devastating and unprecedented flooding, keeping residents up to date with regular postings on their websites and through social media and special flood-watch apps.
Local authorities are still assessing the total impact of the devastation – particularly the repair bill for roads and bridges, which is estimated to run into hundreds of millions of pounds. The LGA said there is no doubt councils will need more financial support from government over the coming months.
Cllr Peter Box, LGA Environment spokesman, said:
“Councils have been pulling out all the stops to help businesses and households that have been ravaged by the floods. This has included taking about 30,000 tonnes of flood damaged household goods, like furniture and freezer waste, to landfill sites. As these items are ‘contaminated’ with floodwater, councils cannot recycle them and they have to be taken to landfill sites – which is costing millions.
“We are calling on government to allow councils to keep all of this landfill tax. This money could make a major difference in helping councils to continue their sterling work with the massive clear-up and returning households and businesses to normality.
“Councils continue to give their all for flood-hit areas. The sense of community spirit across the country and huge efforts of council staff who have worked long hours and with little rest has been inspirational.
“Even now, council staff are also preparing for the possibility of further severe storms to ensure the safety of residents, homes and businesses, shore up flood defences, and protect road networks and power supplies as much as possible.
“People should keep an eye on council websites and social media feeds for updates on the situation in their local areas.”
West Lancashire Borough Council
Council vehicles immediately visited areas affected by the flooding to collect materials such as carpets and furniture and disposed of them. These visits have now been completed. Landfill Tax costs are levied on Lancashire County Council as the relevant Disposal Authority.
Dorset app helps flood-hit north
An online tool designed by Dorset County Council has been used to help people affected by the recent flooding in the north of England. The county council’s geographical information systems (GIS) and flood risk management teams worked with the Environment Agency to develop the web-based app called SWIM to help recovery efforts in the aftermath of serious flooding. The tool lets public bodies, volunteer flood wardens and residents keep track of the numbers of flooded properties and people evacuated from their homes.
City of York Council has created dedicated webpages to support residents and businesses affected by flooding, and to help with the city’s recovery. The pages include information for people whose homes have been affected by flood water, details about road closures and waste collections, as well as specialist advice for business owners. Further information will be added as it becomes available. The aim is to create a single information resource for anyone affected by the floods.