Local MP Andrew Murrison has joined 428 individuals and organisations who have submitted comments to planning authority Wiltshire Council on the proposed Westbury incinerator by the closing date yesterday. The final tally could be as many as 1500, as the Council continues to read and process all the submissions. He said:
“I can’t remember the last time a planning application had so many people formally submitting objections. I hope the planners take note and throw this appalling proposal out.”
Below is a copy of Andrew’s letter.
PLANNING PROPOSAL 20/06775/WCM NORTHACRE INCINERATOR
I write to object strongly to the above application.
I note that Wiltshire Council declared a climate emergency in February 2019 and hope that this application for an old style incinerator delivering a new Westbury smoke stack to the doorsteps of my constituents will be judged against the environmental commitments the council has rightly given.
Northacre Renewable Energy gained permission for a gasification plant at Westbury last year stating that it was a greener alternative to other energy from waste technologies. The proposed switch to old style incineration is a financial expedient. It is based on a reliable, preferably increasing, stream of waste being trucked in from across the sub-region. It should be recognised that strategies higher up the waste hierarchy that would be far more useful in achieving the council’s target for carbon neutrality - reduce, reuse, recycle – threaten incinerator viability since they reduce feedstock. Operators will be keen to ensure that their incinerator business model is not threatened.
Incineration is recognised as more polluting than gasification, producing more greenhouse gases and particles potentially harmful to health. The incineration residue, bottom ash, is a toxic, leachable burden on landfill. Northacre is unable to deny that its application to replace gasification with incineration would be a retrograde step in respect of key parameter - the threat to health, nuisance to the public and damage to the environment.
The application envisages processing more waste than the gasification plant for which NRE already has permission. This will mean more lorries blighting a part of Westbury that is already an Air Quality Management Area and that has limited prospects for a remediating bypass in the foreseeable future. Had there been a western bypass the calculus may have been different. As it is and as the growing number of incinerators planned in the UK compete for waste, it seems likely that feedstock will be sourced from further afield and arrive in lorries that are less than full resulting in far more traffic along the A350 than NRE cites in its submission. The difficulty of remediating the AQMA without a bypass is acknowledged but Wiltshire Council must do nothing to make it worse, including by green-lighting a switch from gasification to old style incineration.
Finally, I note that NRE submitted its application for an Environmental Permit to the Environment Agency on 20 August in accordance with the suggestion led by the late Cllr Jerry Wickham to assist the council in its deliberations. The applicant presumably intends that the council should have the EA’s analysis before it makes its planning decision which is welcome. Therefore, in my view, the council should defer its determination until the EA has finished its work, a position that presumably will be met with no objection by the applicant.