26 February 1999
Welsh plastic recycling plan hits ‘brick wall’

By Robert Davies

A RECYCLING scheme which is backed by the European Union is under threat despite the environmental problems caused by the irresponsible disposal of farm plastic.

Organisers of the project, which is backed by farming unions, claim the scheme cannot go ahead without a Rural Development Grant from the Welsh Office.

The plan to collect farm plastic and process it into garden furniture and fence posts had been derailed by slow processing of the grant application, claim the schemes organisers.

A bid for European cash was successful but the Welsh Office has refused to contribute, said Marilyn Birch of P&M Birch, Ammanford, Carmarthenshire.

More than seven months later, the grant application is still under consideration.

“It is as if we are up against a brick wall,” Mrs Birch complained.

“We have plenty of customers eager to support us in what is a totally green solution to a very big problem.”

Rhian Nowell-Phillips, land use officer for the Farmers Union of Wales, said there was a two-year backlog of waste plastic held on farms.

Many landfill sites refused to take the material, or charged excessively to handle it, and burning and burying were contrary to the Codes of Good Agricultural Practice, she added.

“We have written many times to the Welsh Office pointing out the increasing risk of environmental pollution, and asking when the grant would be approved.”

Welsh Secretary Alan Michael recently told a public meeting that he had no knowledge of the proposed voluntary scheme to recycle the plastic.