27 Apr 2012

Stroud District Council demands GCC halt plans for an incinerator

View from Ash Lane of Stonehouse
It is 11.40ish and I've just got home from a late Council meeting - indeed a long day after setting off to work at 5am - anyway more about the Council meeting in another blog but just wanted to note the motion calling for GCC to stop the plans for an incinerator was passed unanimously.

It was a Labour motion - the Greens proposed amendments to avoid the danger that a slightly inaccurate motion could allow GCC to imply that SDC is somehow mis-representing the actions of the County Council. While a small Lib Dem amendment called on us to investigate further actions if GCC ignore us - I fear they might - indeed they did not even reply to the Cabinet members letter nor the Strategic Directors letter - how outrageous is that?

Anyway few spoke re the motion as I suspect most were in favour but it is really important to actually show some of the reasons why we oppose. Anyway Cllr Wheeler set the scene with most of the key arguments and Cllr Tait read out Stroud District Development Control Committee's objections earlier this week - they have already in so many words rejected planning for the incinerator - however it is GCC who decides.....

My contribution to the debate went something along the lines of below....and I've also just posted the info Greens sent to councillors before the meeting - see here.

25 years ago there  was no internet, few mobile phones, the pound was still in the Exchange Rate Mechanism (just), Europe was digesting the impact of the Chernobyl disaster and recycling was an impractical idea espoused by environmentalists.

The technology used to dispose of waste was landfill - not much else existed. The changes in how residents expect waste to be managed over 25 years has been huge. The social and environmental impact of landfill has been recognised. If 25 years ago a contract had been signed to deliver all of Gloucestershires residual waste to landfill the growth in recycling in would have been impossible. Yet the CC’s proposal is put us in exactly this position - a position of inflexibility.

To sign an agreement for a quarter of a century at a time of reducing budgets and a reducing waste stream is to lock residents into a contract dependant on estimates for inflation, interests rates and waste arisings. 25 years ago interest rates touched 15% no one would have predicted 0.5% in 2012. And regarding waste arisings, the the CC over-estimated the amount of waste we would produce in 10/11 by 70,000 tonnes or almost 25%, the date it made the estimate 2007. That's an over-estimate of 25% in four years!
This calls into question the financial basis of the incinerator and the predicted savings of £150M. Rather than saving money, using the actual waste arisings this facility is likely to costs us millions against the status quo of landfill, at least £30 million. We haven’t seen valid updated figures to disprove this.

We can’t continue landfilling – there isn’t any space and it produces Greenhouse gases. I am are not in favour of continued landfill, yet there is capacity for several decades due to massively reducing waste streams in Construction and Demolition and Commercial and Industrial. Research from respected industry analyst suggests that  the GHG emissions from incineration match or exceed those from landfill. (Eunomia: Climate Change Impacts of Residual Waste Treatment, July 2011)

What we want, and what is available is second chance recycling for viable materials left in the black bags, removal of biological material from the waste stream for AD treatment to provide electricity and heat and the remainder managed with the most environmentally benign technology. What  we are being presented with is, the stone age technology of burn it, at a cost of millions over our current arrangements and with no benefit to our environment.

Here's a quote from Defra, which I didn't get a chance to use - click read more to see it - and see note at very bottom of this blog:
The Economics of Waste and Waste Policy. Waste Economics Team Environment and Growth Economics, Defra (June 2011). Available from:http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13548-economic-principles-wr110613.pdf

“MBT (mechanical biological treatment)-landfill provides the best emissions performance in terms of the treatment/disposal of residual waste. It essentially involves landfilling somewhat stabilised wastes with some material recovery. The magnitude of the environmental impact depends on the extent to which the waste is stabilised.” (page 14)

“The emissions from waste combustion of non-biogenic material (via any technology including mass-burn incineration) are also not comprehensively reflected in the price of disposal. Unless the installation in question is in the ETS (municipal solid waste incinerators are excluded) a negative externality persists – such installations are creating GHG emissions without paying the relevant price.” (page 25)

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