The Exeter Transfer Station at Marsh Barton will be shut on Monday evening to make way for a new energy from waste facility, provided by Viridor, which is expected to take around three years to construct.
In the interim, Exeter City Council which is the collection authority will be forced to transport its residual waste to a landfill site situated 16 miles away in Newton Abbot.
This extra distance means a 32-mile round trip, increasing the hours worked by crews, which according to the council is not feasible, so an alternative shuffle system of collections will be implemented at an increased cost.
Exeter City Council head of waste management Mike Trim told MRW: “We are hiring in an additional eight collection vehicles and five agency drivers to take the waste the extra distance.
“This means we won’t increase the work load of our staff and we will have the extra vehicles to make the hour and a half round trip while the existing vehicles are still out making collections.
“The collections will continue as normal and the public should not see any difference whatsoever.”
The additional £800,000-a-year cost is made up of the hire of the additional vehicles, estimated to be around £8,000 a week and extra staffing costs, estimated to be around £2,000 a week. The fuel costs associated with driving this distance will also make an impact, estimated to be around £2,000 a week.
Exeter City Council is currently looking into other facilities closer to the Exeter city boundaries and has submitted a planning application for one just five miles away but as yet there has been no development on this. If this site was to get the go ahead it would reduce the transport costs to £250,000.
However, with the EfW facility due to be ready in three years and the potential length of time a planning application could take, it is likely that the council will be facing the £800,000 bill for at least six months to a year, if not longer.
Trim said: “Hopefully Devon County Council [which is currently responsible for Exeter’s waste disposal] will meet most of our reasonable costs. They should have budgeted some time ago for these additional costs and made allowances for the authorities that have to make additional journeys.”
The situation is complicated further following the recent announcement that Exeter City Council is to become a unitary authority from April 2011 and will then be responsible for both collection and disposal.
Trim said: “We will have to review the situation from April 2011.”