Martin Kirby Column; Burning Issues, Altar-ations and a King's Night Out
A BURNING ISSUE
Considering that I'm supposed to be chief Luddite in these parts, it's rather ironic that I find it hard to understand the level of opposition to waste incineration. People have been protesting against the proposed burner at Javelin Park for some time now and of course they have every right to do so. Whether their decision to hold a 'Children's Rights Respecting' demonstration was a sensible one is for them to decide, given that most of the children involved probably don't know what an incinerator is.
Still, credit where it's due. Holding a children's protest was a clever publicity stunt, as the sight of worried little faces conjures-up visions of Victorian factory chimneys belching-out thick smoke, and urchins being sent up domestic chimneys to clean them. But modern incinerators are nothing like that.
We have a great opportunity to stop dumping most of our rubbish in landfill sites where harmful gases escape as it decomposes, and start burning it cleanly, while at the same time producing energy.
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Anyone concerned about pollution from an incinerator should visit Tuffley, where bonfire night has become an all-year-round event. Nobody seems to bother about pollution when it's coming from a back garden. But I digress.
Denmark, for example, burns 54% of its waste in heat and power stations. Using the system has not only reduced the country's energy costs and reliance on oil and gas, but it's said that the plants run so cleanly that many times more dioxin is now released from home fireplaces and barbecues than from incineration.
What we need is a clear undertaking from Urbaser Balfour Beatty, the waste management group behind the scheme, that the plant will use the very latest technology and toughest safety measures to ensure there is minimal impact on the community with maximum benefit.
In short, Gloucestershire County Council needs to be all over UBB like a rash to make sure we are getting what was promised and what we are paying for.
A HEAVENLY IDEA
I've never been a regular visitor to the house of God but I have a great deal of affection for Gloucester Cathedral. The idea that people could build something so vast and intricate without any form of electrical tools, modern cranes and scaffolding, or designers using laptop computers, is mind-boggling. But now we have such equipment, it can be used on 'Project Pilgrim', a £5million rejuvenation scheme planned for the Cathedral. The building we see today was begun in 923 years ago and if it's to last another nine centuries, it has to move with the times but without altering the building's historic fabric. It's a challenge for everyone involved and I wish them luck with raising the money.
FIT FOR A KING
Most Gloucester people know where Barton Street is, but surprising few have even heard of King's Barton Street, let alone know where to find it. The street was laid out in 1864 for working-class housing by Joseph Lovegrove, who also contributed to the growth of other parts of Gloucester and was a prominent local solicitor. It is also home to one of the city's only theatres and has been home to good amateur productions since the early 1950s.
Now if this bit of local trivia looks like just an excuse to plug the Phoenix players' latest production in their 54th season, it is.
"The Decorator", by Donald Churchill, will be performed at The Kings Theatre from 20 to 24 November and looks set to be good fun. For more information, call 01452 522795.
EU MUST BE JOKING
The latest gem from the EU is a proposal to slap 20% VAT on new-build houses in the UK. Just one more benefit of being in this wonderful organisation.