Incineration and the Green Agenda
Back in December, I wrote about proposals for an energy-from-waste (EfW) incinerator in my constituency (‘Anti-Incineration Initiatives’, 18/12/20).
In that piece, I wrote: ‘we still have a lot to do in terms of our emissions reductions in Wiltshire, the south west and nationally. Wiltshire Council declared a climate emergency in 2019; Westbury has an Air Quality Management Area; the U.K. is en route to a carbon neutral future and is hosting COP26 next year. More incinerators contradict these policies and ambitions.’
Well, the campaign against Northacre Renewable Energy’s (NRE) incinerator continues with renewed emphasis on these points.
This week, we had the first session of COP26 oral parliamentary questions to government ministers - the President, Alok Sharma MP, and Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP.
I was squeezed into proceedings on Wednesday just before PMQs, when I had the opportunity to ask whether the Glasgow summit later this year will provide an opportunity to debate the question of our burning waste.
I believe that in this COP presidency year we should be doing nothing that will encourage old-style incinerators that pump effluent into the great landfill in the sky in places like Westbury.
Part of Minister Trevelyan’s response was:
“The work that we have done already in the Resources and Waste Strategy is leading the way and we are looking to eliminate all avoidable waste by 2050.”
The Strategy in question outlines plans to create greater efficiency from EfW and ensure that ‘all future EfW plants achieve recovery status’.
A second strategy – cited earlier in proceedings by Alok Sharma – is the PM’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. Under this, the government sets out plans to increase energy from low carbon hydrogen.
NRE’s proposals for a moving grate old-style incinerator fall well short of being efficient, a recovery facility, or low carbon hydrogen fuelled – as the government’s strategy rightly demands. Indeed, NRE already has permission for a gasification plant at Westbury based on cleaner technology.
It seems the tide is turning, however. My comments came just days after Minister Kwasi Kwarteng refused permission for a 390,00 tonne EfW facility in North Kent.
The decision for the Westbury incinerator is currently in the hands of the Environment Agency and Wiltshire Council – both of whom have now closed their consultations. Hopefully they will prevent its construction, and with it the need for the Secretary of State to be called upon to rule on this proposal.