Agenda item

Allocation of Capital funding for the MRF

To consider the report of the Director Finance.


The Leader presented the report which sought approval for the allocation of £6 million funding from CIL to enable the MRF capital project to proceed, remarking how:-

·         important and urgent this investment was to Exeter, which explained why it could not be pushed back until after May;

·         the MRF needed increased capacity;

·         dedicated food waste bays were needed in order to increase food waste collection;

·         a contractor would be found if the recommendation was approved;

·         investing in the MRF would make a difference to the recycling rate of the city;

·         funding would come mostly through Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) receipts; and

·         as well as food collection, this project would ensure that the MRF would run effectively for the next 10 to 15 years and modernise the operation.

Councillor M Mitchell, as co-Leader of the Progressive Group, offered full support for the proposal but remarked that:-


·         he would like household glass collection to be added to the collection remit; and

·         the basis for the proposal came from the alternative budget put forward by the Progressive Group in February and which had been voted down by the Leader’s group.

Councillor Moore, as co-Leader of the Progressive Group, welcomed the report and highlighted how the MRF was a critical piece of infrastructure. She further made the following points:-

·         she made reference to a video produced by the Portfolio Holder for Place & City Management which challenged residents to help the Council further reduce waste levels;

·         Exeter was third in the country in terms of the lowest levels of waste produced by a city;

·         once residents had produced their waste, however small, it became the responsibility of the Council to dispose of it appropriately; and

·         the current recycling rate of 25% was insufficient and needed to be raised to at least 65%.

During debate, Members made the following further comments:-


·         the lower the amount of waste produced, the more challenging it was to increase recycling in terms of percentage;

·         Exeter’s MRF was among the first in the country to deal with flexible plastic;

·         the MRF was overdue for renewal;

·         the current team worked wonders with old equipment;

·         a recycling rate of 96% would be achievable with the new equipment;

·         it was unclear why CIL money was being spent on cycle routes when Exeter City Council was not a highways authority;

·         too much CIL money had been spent on the St Sidwell’s Point leisure centre to the detriment of other wards;

·         household glass recycling was urgently required;

·         the low level of waste in Exeter was the result of the low level of garden waste produced, which should not be celebrated as it demonstrated a lack of gardens in the city; and

·         investing in the MRF now would cost the council less in the long term.

In summing up, the Leader addressed Members’ comments as follows:-


·         “Future Investment in the MRF” had been discussed as a Part II item at the Full Council meeting of 12 December 2023, during which he had encouraged Members of all parties to contact him on the matter;

·         on the issue of glass collection, he would ask the Director Net Zero Exeter & City Management to provide a detailed response, which would be forwarded to all Members;

·         the continued success and popularity of St Sidwell’s Point had vindicated the investment;

·         there was a precedent for undelivered promises made to Exeter by the highways authority;

·         the reason why many other district Councils had better recycling rates was precisely because they produced more garden waste;

·         food waste was a concern but not the only one;

·         it was essential for the city to be non-partisan on this matter.

The Leader moved and Councillor Wright seconded the recommendation and following a vote, the recommendation was carried unanimously.


RESOLVED the allocation of £6 million from the CIL infrastructure fund be approved to enable the project approved in December 2023 to proceed.


Supporting documents: