YORK will soon be aiming to recycle nearly half of its rubbish, if ambitious new targets are agreed next week.
Ruling councillors are expected to set a 40 per cent recycling target for the city to reach by next year.
New figures show that York is expected to reach a rate of 38 per cent in the year ending March 31, this year.
Andrew Waller, the council's executive member for neighbourhoods, said: "We have seen recycling rates in York soar over the last four years, which is a huge turnaround.
"York now has a recycling record to be proud of. In 2003, under Labour, just 12 per cent of rubbish was being recycled.
"I am delighted this has hit 38 per cent, and I am determined that we will achieve 40 per cent next year and reach more houses with kerbside collections.
"It is only a shame that we are still forced to pay so much money to the Government - for every pound we are taxed by Gordon Brown for waste, we receive only 25p to reinvest in recycling. This needs to change - I would rather see more of York residents' money spent here instead of boosting Treasury coffers.
"It is thanks to the enthusiasm of residents that we have made so much progress. We have also re-invested money saved from landfill tax to support new schemes for recycling, and for continuing the Friends of St Nicholas Field project when their grants run out."
"The Government is also setting councils a maximum amount of waste that they can landfill. Every tonne over this limit could be fined at a maximum of £150 per tonne. Thanks to the efforts of residents, we shall keep within our targets, otherwise between 2005 and 2008 another £5 million may have disappeared back to central Government."
He said the latest increases in recycling rates were due to:
- The expansion of cardboard to all households on alternate weekly collections
- The continuation of the alternate weekly system over the winter period
- Continuing success of recycling at the household waste recycling centres, where more than 60 per cent of waste is diverted from landfill
- The continuing success of waste minimisation projects such as efforts at composting, the wider use of real nappies, and tackling excessive packaging.
'Turn out lights' call by greens
ENVIRONMENTALISTS have criticised York and North Yorkshire for failing to tackle night-time light pollution.
York's Green Party councillors said "night blight" was a major problem in our area.
Coun Mark Hill said: "The energy wasted from street lighting shining sideways or directly up into the night sky is equivalent to the total output of one power station. This is simply a result of poor streetlight design.
"Some streetlights are just wasting electricity between midnight and 5am. They should be turned off."
He added: "Now is the time to reverse York's increasing light pollution and bring back the night sky. Now is the time to switch off."
His fellow councillor Andy D'Agorne said lighting on historic buildings should be on when genuinely necessary.
But he also said: "I am particularly concerned about the impact of new lighting in the green belt such as that which will be needed as part of the new ring road roundabout at Moor Lane and new overhead direction signs on the A64 at Grimston Bar. These are the real offenders, rather than the lighting for our historic buildings."
The Greens said Buckinghamshire County Council was installing improved road safety equipment prior to turning off streetlights on less-used roads in seven areas of the county.
They said that local examples of progress included a restriction on upward lighting at Hungate, and a limit on lights at a new Heslington cycle way.
The Press recently reported that residents living near York's new eco-depot had complained about light pollution from it.
City of York Council leader Steve Galloway said the council had been active in reducing light pollution.
He said: "There has been significant advances in recent years in the effectiveness of street lighting which all contribute to quality and standard of lighting provided."
He said the council always sought to invest in lighting equipment that provided the most sustainable solution, and only used equipment approved by the Campaign For The Protection Of Rural England.
He cited Highthorne Road and Crockey Hill as positive examples.
Coun Galloway said if the council was successful in becoming a pathfinder authority on highway maintenance, it could improve further.
On the matter of dimming or switching off lights during the early hours, Coun Galloway said the safety of road users, cyclists, pedestrians and night-time workers must be considered.
He said it would not be practical to dim lights or switch them off without shutting down the rest of the network, but modern technology meant reliable timers could dim or turn off individual lights for selected streets.
But, he said, switching lamps off and on reduced their life, questioning whether it was a sustainable approach.
Crackdown needed to help eliminate climate change
CITY councillors were today discussing ways to help tackle climate change locally.
The Labour shadow executive on City of York Council will meet the council's director of city strategy, Bill Woolley, and other invitees at a meeting at Guildhall.
The discussion was likely to focus on the use of the ecological footprint and carbon footprint in York in tackling climate change. The meeting also coincides with Labour's launch of its Green' manifesto, which presents policies to tackle climate change in York.
Labour group leader Dave Merrett said: "Like most of the developed world, we consume and pollute more than we should, and this needs to change. Local Labour is determined to move towards a more sustainable future. This potentially affects everything, whether it is better building design to reduce energy wastage, altering the way we deal with rubbish, promoting environmentally-friendly forms of travel - they all have their part to play.
"Local Labour is keen to engage everyone in the city - residents and businesses - in discussing what needs to be done, and how we can best go about it."
Coun Merrett said: "Labour nationally has been amending the planning process to raise the profile of sustainability, including a zero-emissions target for all new housing by 2016. Locally we have supported the cross-party work to produced supplementary planning guidance for York that will take things forward in the interim. If elected, we will ensure the council's new Local Development Framework (LDF) goes as far as it can to reinforce and develop this further.
"We will also comprehensively review the sustainability of the council's own operations."
Coun Merrett said several more of local Labour's policies would help tackle climate change.
In York, the highest consumer items impacting on both the ecological footprint and the carbon footprint are housing (electricity, gas distribution and domestic fuel), food and transport (fuel use).