Activists warn of new fight over waste burner

Have your say

CAMPAIGNERS who fought off plans to build a large waste-burning incinerator on the border between Hull and the East Riding have pledged to turn up the heat again if the project is resurrected.

The campaign group Hull and East Riding Opposing the Incinerator (HOTI) claimed a victory for “people power” last year when Hull and East Riding councils finally scrapped plans to build an incinerator at Saltend, near Hedon, by announcing they were ending their joint waste management contract with the Spanish-owned firm Waste Recycling Group.

However, with the contract due to expire next year the councils are to begin consulting on new waste management facilities – and have not ruled out an incinerator being part of their plans.

Their Joint Waste Local Plan, which will go to consultation later this year, says: “The WPAs (waste planning authorities) may accept proposals for incineration with energy recovery if it can be demonstrated that in the particular circumstances it is the Best Practicable Environmental Option for waste management.

“Incineration with energy recovery can have benefits like using heat from the process in local homes and businesses as well as generating electricity.”

The Saltend incinerator would have been an “energy from waste” facility that would have burned up to 240,000 tonnes of household waste a year, prompting fears it would release harmful emissions.

Opponents also claimed the technology was outdated, and that increased recycling rates would mean it was not needed.

The debate was renewed last week when Beverley and Holderness Tory MP Graham Stuart, a HOTI founder, wrote to both councils calling on them to rule incineration out.

He also co-sponsored an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to ban the incineration of recyclable or compostable waste.

And now HOTI spokesman John Dennis has warned that campaigners were ready to re-enter the fray should any new incinerator be proposed.

Mr Dennis, who is also the East Riding Council member for South West Holderness, said: “I supported Graham’s proposal and emphasised that such a statement is now long overdue as we, the residents of Hedon and South West Holderness, have lived now for almost seven years under the threat of the construction of a 240,000-tonne mass-burn incinerator plant to deal with residual household waste at Saltend.

“The point I made way back in 2006 when I spoke at the planning committee meeting at the Guildhall was that there would be no need for such a facility due to the likely reduction in waste arisings and the projected growth in recycling, has proved to be correct.

“Indeed, we hear that trials in selected areas to introduce fortnightly green and blue bin collections in East Yorkshire have been a real success and there has been a massive rise in recycling to almost 70 per cent in certain areas.”

He added: “We are still here, HOTI is still in existence. The fact that the contract was cancelled 18 months ago really isn’t the end of it as far as we are concerned. If anything changes, believe me, we are still here and we are ready to make more noise than we have in the past.”

The councils signed a 25-year contract with WRG in 1999, which included provision for an incinerator.

It was initially earmarked for a site in Foster Street, Hull, but planning permission was refused. Permission for the Saltend site was granted in January 2007.

A licence to operate the plant was briefly withdrawn by the Environment Agency in 2008 after concerns were raised by Friends of the Earth about CO2 emissions from a similar plant in Sussex.

The councils said the technology for Saltend was safe, effective and proven.

In 2009 the councils announced they were no longer seeking £180m of funding through the Private Finance Initiative to build the incinerator, blaming the cost of borrowing.

They said yesterday: “The councils are currently developing their Joint Waste Development Plan, which provides a framework for future planning decisions in their areas to deal with recycling, composting and residual waste management facilities. We are focused on increasing recycling and composting and encouraging the prevention of waste. There will be an opportunity for all stakeholders to respond to the Joint Waste Development Plan later this year.”