27 Oct 2013

Burning issues in local politics

By Gerald Hartley

There are many reasons to oppose burning of waste - it destroys materials that will become in short supply and could be recycled, and they aren't efficient in how they use the heat. Financially incinerators are a gamble - the facilities require long term contracts which cannot then allow a flexible response to likely changes in waste creation. The alternatives are now favoured by government and the EU which also wants to ban incinerators from burning anything that can be recycled. You might think the Labour Party would have a principled opposition to them by now.

Despite all of this, Worcestershire County Council is going to build an incinerator at Hartlebury. The National Audit Office says it wants to examine the financial deal. Two Green Party county councillors proposed a motion to get it stopped. Here is the Labour Party response.

Labour Councillor Richard Udall, chairman of WCC's scrutiny board, said: "I totally oppose this motion because I think it's unnecessary. If we thought this was needed, we'd have found time. It's been scrutinised for over 15 years, other options have been looked at and rejected, and this motion is designed to pander to a few protesters."

There are real concerns over the health impact of air pollution, and the World Health Authority recognises its contribution to causing cancer. We should be wary of any proposal to put more pollution into the atmosphere. The refusal to consider the dangers of incineration or to look at realistic alternatives, is appalling.
Councillor Peter Mc-Donald, Labour group leader, said: "We need this incinerator up and running as quickly possible - we are running out of landfill space and the taxes on it are going up and up."

The evidence is that government taxes on landfilling have worked so well that the UK has met all its EU targets. In a couple of years the UK will have more alternatives to landfill than it needs. Some of that overcapacity will be recycling via MBT plants, but sadly, incineration will also play a big part.

Tory Councillor John Campion said: "He (Cllr Udall) is spot on - it's almost like they haven't got the answer they wanted, so they have decided to come back and ask again. So there we have it. Another Tory/Labour agreement to ignore the local community, do a deal with big business and to hell with the environment, public health and future generations. So hurrah for the Greens for asking again. Mainstream politicians seem to have forgotten that the point of democracy is public service, not serving the few at the expense of the majority.
(Photo "Fire" by Federico Stevanin via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net )

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