13 Oct 2009

Results of consultation on incinerator hidden?

I've been having lots of correspondence re waste - and very sad to learn that a major waste debate will be in Whiteshill Village Hall early November on a night I cannot attend - a deep disappointment as I have been asked to Chair - I hope it goes well as such debates are important and timely as we draw near to more decisions on waste - you will see below the letter Martin Whiteside sent to local press earlier this week regarding Tory policy on incineration and also the press release yesterday re the consultations.

Photo: On the streets in Gloucester earlier this year collecting signatures against an incinerator

Indeed I uploaded the consultation reports onto the Green party website as GCC have not made these available for easy access - indeed Greens have had meetings discussing this issue yet never been offered the reports until we explicitly requested them. They are also not on GCC's website - at least they weren't - strange indeed as they are public documents that show the results of the public and stakeholder consultations. Thanks to various people who have drawn attention to these reports.

Anyway see here the press release - Martin Whiteside comments: "Transparency is essential for good Government - but it is not good enough to have an important public document like this available only to those 'in the know' who ask - it should have been on the website and properly publicised. The Green party have now published the consultation results on their own website so that people can judge for themselves."

County appear to ignore consultation results

In one of the reports in a question about the trade-off between three factors that was published in the County papers, environmental factors were seen as most important (98% of respondents), then flexibility (91% of respondents) with costs being seen as the least important factor (89% of respondents).

However table 3 of the unpublished report shows that under “very important”, respondents rated environmental factors as most important (70%) with cost and flexibility rated at 35% each, and when asked what is “important” they rated cost and flexibility at 55% each and environment at 28%. The County’s published figures are a sum of the “most important” and important” results in each category which makes a nonsense of what the public actually said.

Martin Whiteside is also quoted saying: "It is perhaps not surprising that the County has kept this quiet as it shows clearly that the public are more concerned about the environment and flexibility than the cost of waste solutions. If the County listen to this they will now rule out any plans for a huge incinerator. Furthermore there is evidence that the procurement process the County have used does not take account of the concerns expressed in their own consultation process. Is this an example of lets consult the public and stakeholders but let's ignore their input?"

Letter to press

The Tory leader Cameron has dodged ruling out incinerators in Gloucestershire. Tory dithering on giant mass-burn incineration could cost us dear in Gloucestershire and contrasts with the Greens clear opposition and alternative strategy which can be viewed at www.glosgreenparty.org.uk/waste.
Tory environment shadow minister Nick Herbert MP has spoken out in favour of a tax on incineration which would make the economics of an incineration solution even more costly and uncertain. While two years ago, the Conservatives published their "Quality of Life" report which says “a ban should be established by 2012 on the incineration of any untreated biodegradeable and recyclable waste (i.e. waste which has not passed through a pre-treatment process)”.

So what's going on locally? The Tory led County Council is in the process of tendering for solutions to the County's waste - this contract is likely to be the single most expensive that the County Council has ever negotiated - so we need to get it right. Greens remain hopeful that Tories are speaking honestly when they claim to be open to a wide range of technologies. However we fail to understand why a large incinerator wasn't ruled out like some other Councils have done.

It is time that the Tories ended their 'technology neutral' stance, come off the fence like the Greens and go for the best available technology for the future of our environment in Gloucestershire.

Councillor Martin Whiteside,
Green Party parliamentary Candidate for Stroud
Anyhow lastly I was pointed to the Sutton Courtenay against Incineration website and while I don't agree with all it has to say it is a useful resource.

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