THE amount of harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) pumped out of vehicles belonging to Ansa, the council-owned waste management firm, has soared since it moved to Middlewich.

In 2018-19 – the first full year since Ansa moved from sites in Crewe and Macclesfield to its environmental hub in Cledford Lane last February – the fleet produced 3,773 tonnes of CO2 in 2018-19, a 13 per cent increase over the 3,332 tonnes of CO2 it produced in 2017-18.

However, Ansa launched new routes for its waste collection lorries on Monday, and Cheshire East Council insists the routes will lead to fewer vehicles on the road – and in turn, fewer emissions.

The figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act following a request made to CEC by Bill Walmsley, former Middlewich First town councillor.

Winsford Guardian:

He said: “It just goes to prove the point that the Ansa waste depot is in the wrong location to deal with all the borough’s waste.

“How does this square up with the council’s promise to become carbon neutral in six years? There will also have been a corresponding increase in other harmful pollutants from the Ansa operation.”

Residents and councillors who battled against plans for the environmental hub insisted the town would see air quality worsen as a result of the site.

Cllr Dave Latham, independent Middlewich town councillor, was a key figure in the Action Against Ansa group and now sits on a liaison board to share concerns with the waste management company.

He said: “It is very concerning – but it was expected. The Action Against Ansa group knew from its own figures that the air quality was going to diminish as a result of the site and its traffic.

Winsford Guardian:

“If it is a diesel engine it is going to emit fumes, and that is the problem we have got. It is very disappointing that we in Middlewich have to suffer as a result.

“Ansa has accepted that and there are suggestions that electric lorries could be used, but it is going to be a long time before there is a fleet of electric vehicles because of the cost involved.”

Cllr Jonathan Parry, Labour CEC member for Middlewich, added: “This comes as no surprise because of the extensive housebuilding that has been happening over the years in Cheshire East – the more homes there are, the more driving the bin lorries have to do.

“Obviously a lot of those CO2 emissions will be in Middlewich. When the bypass is in operation that will lessen the impact on air quality in town – but that is not for a while yet.

Winsford Guardian:

“I’m no expert on air quality, but it is something that the council needs to look into, otherwise Middlewich residents are going to suffer.”

CEC admits it expected the initial rise in CO2 emissions from Ansa’s fleet – but it expects the new routes launched this week to improve air quality.

A CEC spokesman said: “CEC had always anticipated that the change from having two depots – Macclesfield and Crewe – to one purpose-built centre in Middlewich would see an initial increase in overall mileage and associated CO2 emissions.

“The complex logistics of changing around 480 collection rounds, to accommodate the new environmental hub and the introduction of food waste in the garden bin could not be rushed.

“Through extensive work the increase has now been mitigated by the re-routing, which has taken effect from November 4.

“An important factor in the re-routing was that there would be a reduction in the number of refuse collection vehicles operating on behalf of Ansa and, as a result, there will be a significant reduction in vehicle numbers.

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“According to our modelling of the new routes we estimate an annual saving in mileage of more than 50,000 miles.

“This will contribute towards the council’s stated aim to become carbon neutral by 2025.”