Gloucestershire County Council's waste chief on incinerator plan
PLANS for a £500million incinerator to burn Gloucestershire's waste have divided opinion. Campaign groups claim it is a threat to people's health, an accusation strenuously denied by Gloucestershire County Council and their contractors Urbaser Balford Beatty (UBB). Here, Stan Waddington, the council's cabinet champion for waste, has his say. FOR some time now, campaigners against the energy from waste facility planned for Javelin Park have been talking about what scares them. With Halloween passed and bonfire night celebrations upon us, I wanted to tell local people what scares me.
In Gloucestershire, we recycle about 49 per cent of our household waste. The county council has an aim to reach 70 per cent by 2030 that would make us one of the highest recyclers in Europe.
As part of this challenge, we are moving away from burying the county's household waste, after as much as possible has been recycled or composted, to an energy from waste facility in Gloucestershire. However, you may have heard some frightening claims that are being circulated.
Those opposed to the new facility would have people believe there will be emissions released that will harm young and old as well as the environment. Yet modern, well-run energy from waste facilities have been proven as safe and clean.
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Modern energy from waste facilities operate under more stringent standards than any other sector. The proposed facility will have highly sophisticated air pollutant control systems to catch and neutralise what the burning process creates. To put this into perspective, the 2010 Dioxin Inventory shows the emissions from bonfire night accounted for 3.6 per cent of all UK emissions, whereas emissions from all of the UK's energy from waste facilities accounted for just over half of one per cent of the total emissions (0.64 per cent) each year.
In Gloucestershire, there are three landfill sites covering the equivalent area of about 250 rugby pitches, emitting harmful greenhouse gases. We estimate these landfill sites will be full in 10 to 13 years. What then? New landfill sites? And if that wasn't enough reason to find an alternative, last year we spent almost £8 million on landfill tax alone, the same cost as 1,600 care packages supporting Gloucestershire's most vulnerable people.
This facility will save local people up to £190million over the next 25 years, and will be clean and safe. What's more, it will generate enough renewable energy to power 25,000 homes, reducing our reliance on burning fossil fuels. Doing nothing is not an option, environmentally or financially.