THE council has just undergone a major Audit Commission inspection of its environmental services, part of a rolling programme of Government inspections that all local authorities must go through. Two Audit Commission inspectors spent a week with the counc
THE council has just undergone a major Audit Commission inspection of its environmental services, part of a rolling programme of Government inspections that all local authorities must go through.
Two Audit Commission inspectors spent a week with the council, looking at how it delivers environmental services such as refuse and recycling, the rapid response team, environmental improvements, Anglia in Bloom and the success of the council's policy on renewable energy sources using wind turbine technology.
The inspectors also visited the Nene Waterfront Project and were shown the plans to regenerate the derelict heart of Wisbech, turning it into a vibrant and attractive centre that will create job and housing opportunities for local people and stimulate the Fenland economy as a whole.
The two inspectors, one a specialist in environmental issues and the other a planning and policy specialist, were told about Fenland's recent Beacon Status award for boosting the percentage of waste it recycles and composts by 12 per cent to 32 per cent, well above the national average of 18 per cent.
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The work of the rapid response team was also highlighted as a success. The team has reduced waiting times for the clearing of fly-tipping anywhere in the district, from 10 days to just 24 hours.
As part of its clear focus on sustainable development, the council has also been instrumental in promoting and supporting the development of wind turbine technology for the generation of electricity.
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Indeed, the active role of the council in enabling the development of 15 working turbines and for granting planning permission for a further 12 turbines, puts Fenland among the forefront of forward-thinking environmentally-aware councils.
When they are all in operation, they will generate sufficient electricity to meet the domestic demands of all four Fenland Towns - something that will not be lost on the Audit Commission inspectors.
When it comes to statistics on how much energy and commitment has been focused on improving parks and open spaces, the statistics are truly impressive. In the last year the council has tended over 12 miles of hedgerow, maintained 1.2million square metres of grass (the size of 200 football pitches), planted 112,000 bedding plants, planted 30,000 crocuses, planted 60,000 daffodils and planted 20,000 tulips. As a direct result of these efforts, Wisbech scooped a silver award in the Anglia in Bloom competition and Chatteris claimed a bronze award.
The statistics on the rapid response team are a study in efficiency and commitment, too. Between January and November last year they responded to 2,068 fly-tipping incidents, tackling 2,010 of them in just 24 hours.
Councillor Peter Murphy, portfolio holder for 'Streets Ahead', said: "The council has done a great deal to improve the environment of Fenland in many different ways and we are confident that this will be reflected in the inspectors report.