12 Nov 2010

Incinerator campaign steps up a gear

Further below are a couple of petitions. The Big Waste Debate was on Monday 1st November at the University of Gloucestershire. I didn't get to it but heard from Greens who made it - waste has featured earlier this week at our monthly Green District councillors meeting and was the main topic of this week's monthly Green party meeting.

Photo: Randwick woods again - yes I know I've had a fair few of these photos but they are amazing at the moment!

Basically we are getting closer to crunch time. Various actions are being taken - a formal letter to the County plus the petition being handed in - see below - plus Green County Councillor Sarah Lunnon summed had a letter this week in the press summarising a key issue:

Opportunity to grasp the waste nettle

THE impact of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review on Gloucestershire will take some time to be felt. One immediate consequence has been the withdrawal of funding for the Residual Waste Contract.

I imagine this is being met with concern at Shire Hall yet some councillors and campaign groups sense an opportunity for the county to now make the right decision without the bribe of PFI funding. Rather than signing off a 25-plus-year contract committing Council Tax payers of Gloucestershire to supply 150,000 tons of waste to a private company at a total cost of some £600million or more, the council has the opportunity to reconsider.

The assumptions made for the PFI funding were for 60 per cent recycling and waste production at the current levels until 2050. I and others believe these conditions are unlikely to be stable over 25 years. Already, UK local authorities are achieving recycling rates of 70 per cent, total waste produced is falling and the makeup and value of waste has changed considerably with time.

What is required is a series of local, small-scale, flexible solutions which drive the recycling industry, provide the lowest environmental impact and the best long-term economic return. I hope the administration takes this opportunity to dump its current neutered stance on technology which has led up the incinerator path and do something that lives up to the aims and aspirations of the residents of Gloucestershire.

Coun Sarah Lunnon Green Party, Stroud East

As Sarah says the Government has cut the £92m PFI (Private Finance Initiative) funding for Gloucestershire's waste project (see my blog here). Explaining its decision, the department said the projects, "on reasonable assumptions, will no longer be needed to meet landfill diversion targets set by the European Union". This is good news but does not mean that the incinerator project is dead as some have suggested. A decision will be made in January 2011. Basically those of us opposed to a large incinerator have a couple of months to convince them not to build it and instead to choose the more sustainable, cheaper alternatives.

The Friends of the Earth petition is still open - sign before the 15th November: http://www.glosfoe.org.uk/petition.php

The petition is to be handed in to Gloucestershire County Council on Wednesday 24th November 9.15 am at Shire Hall. Many of us are also hoping to be there to show how we feel about this issue.

One might assume that GCC would now go down a lower cost route such as MRF and AD. The County Council have said that they will be consulting with DEFRA on the way forward, and one reading of DEFRA could be that, as their modelling suggests sufficient capacity is being built, then perhaps neighbouring authorities can share that capacity. So we could find our waste simply being shipped to incinerators elsewhere with the payment of appropriate gate fees. And the ash still going to Stoke Orchard?

One way forward is perhaps to form a Gloucestershire (Zero?) Waste Working Group. District Councils clearly might have a bigger role - Stroud District Council has been keen to develop local solutions. Amazingly less than 40% of our waste is currently recycled in the UK. The current targets are woefully short of where they need to be if we're to stop burning and burying precious resources.

You might also want to sign FoE's petition to get a 70% recycling target nationally - unambitious in my view but totally possible which is possibly why FoE have gone for it - sign here.

Warwickshire win

Interestingly as mentioned before on this blog the campaigning that Greens, FoE and others have done in Coventry has changed a council full of burner fans into one that unanimously voting against carrying on with the incinerator PFI. Councillors are how looking at keeping the old burner going for a few more years and then replacing it with something smaller and greener in a decade or so. A colleague writes: "Most remarkable was the Tory ex deputy leader of the council who wrote to the Treasury asking for their incinerator PFI to be scrapped (even though he was the one pushing it along two years before).....It is very useful to watch the debate at the city council where the parties are fighting over who was going to dump it first!"

Other victories for anti-incineration campaigners around the UK, include:
* Chesterfield’s incinerator application was refused planning permission in a 8-1 vote.
* Shepshed (Leics) Biffa's 300,000t pa incinerator plan refused planning permission.
* Battlefield (Shrewsbury) incinerator - Shrops Council unanimously turned down Veolia's plans despite planning officers’ recommendations that they should approve the application.

For those looking for some useful new references see this list below supplied by a Green party colleague:
Cwm Harry Land Trust, an exemplar in community waste management with a social enterprise structure employing challenged adults:
South Oxfordshire District Council exceeds 70% recycling:
The Co-op and Sainsburys provide free unsold food to community food projects:
Plans for a community led and owned anaerobic digester in Leominster:
Dutch incinerators 500,000 tonne overcapacity this year, with Shanks exporting 40,000 tonnes of UK waste flagged as RDF:
UK predicted to have a 715,000 tonne residual waste treatment overcapacity by 2020;
With hindsight, Kent County Council regret signing their incinerator contract:

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