A specially erected marquee on a St Dennis playing field in Cornwall was the site of an extraordinary event as some 1,000 people “vented their frustration over plans to build an incinerator on their doorstep”. According to the Western Morning News, the meeting, one of the biggest public meetings ever held in the county, gave rise to some “explosive gestures of support” as speaker after speaker called on Cornwall County Council to throw out the application, with “a quiet and sincere voice…one elderly woman summed up the feelings of many”. Reading a statement by St Dennis Primary School governor, Ginny Edwards, she pleaded on behalf of the children:

The spectre of this has been hanging over the people of St Dennis for a long time. The psychological toll it has taken has been huge and many people have grown depressed about the perceived health threats to their children.

Then, speaking directly to the planning committee, she said:

Are you prepared to gamble with these children’s lives? I am not, as a governor of St Dennis school, and I am not as a human being.

Local resident Robert Stack said:

Wildlife studies have been done on this site and one recently reported that there is no significant wildlife in the area. So everyone who has seen deer, butterflies and other wildlife has obviously been imagining it. We don’t even have a dual carriageway that runs the length of Cornwall so all the lorries are going to be backed up in summer traffic. We are going to be choking in vehicle emissions, let alone the toxins from the incinerator.

The BBC website carries a short video describing the event, with several brief interviews. This is Cornwall described the meeting as a “four-hour debate”. They reported that the audience was asked not to applaud but in defiance, loud cheers greeted every one of the 33 official speakers except those from SITA, the French-owned company which wants to build the incinerator. They also record that:

What people said was intensely moving. These were not ‘not in my back yard’ shallow-thinkers. They were ordinary men and women who have researched long and hard to gain expertise to argue their case. People from all walks of life and different political persuasions, they said the proposed incinerator is a dangerous and outmoded solution to the county’s waste problems.

The council’s planning committee and other members of the authority silently listened to successive presentations. The county council’s planning chairman Roger Bonney was visibly moved. He assured residents he had the finest committee they could ask for and thanked residents for conducting the meeting peacefully. He said:

We have been touched and will have meetings to discuss what you have said. You have helped us to understand a great deal. I want to assure you that everything is not done and dusted. We do care, we do listen, and will take your views forward.

In a separate report entitled “No alternative” to incinerator, This is Cornwall states:

[Sita] The waste company behind plans to build an incinerator on the doorstep of a clay country village last night admitted that there is no plan B if the application is refused. At the end of a four-hour public meeting in St Dennis on Wednesday evening, waste company Sita was forced to admit that no alternative solutions for dealing with Cornwall’s rubbish have been seriously considered.

A date for the meeting to decide the application has not yet been set.

According to a respected local campaigner:

The meeting was a huge success, for us, not for SITA, who were left with red faces, looking very poorly indeed. Every person was well behaved at all times, all clapped every speaker but not for very long. Everyone was polite, giving the impression to the public and councillors that they understood what they were speaking about at all times. And the speakers came from all over the Duchy (and even further afield) and not just from the local area. Four PPCs spoke from virtually the same script, from four separate political parties.

We used all the information that we had gathered together over many months, and we have to give special thanks to many, including Tom who travelled from Coventry to be here. I do not think he was expecting a thousand people and the full media circus that we had!

We were told what some of us already knew, that there is no plan B. Mr Buckle does not understand why we do not wish to have his pet incinerator in our midst. Mr Buckle was chief planning officer for Hampshire where he made sure that his friends built lots of incinerators in that county. Once he had done his worst there, he then of course went to work for his friends SITA.

We now have a huge job to do to give our Duchy county council a plan B. We have enough contacts in all the differing waste companies, and the expertise here to do the job. So now we must get on with it. We will need very accurate figures as to how much money can be saved each year by using the proximity principle, recycling every possible thing that we can, and only using small very efficient technology for residual waste. We will get there, and I know that we will have both your help and encouragement to do it.

No Responses to “Cornwall big tent event well attended”

  1. I thought that the Environment Agency personnel looked under a lot of stress at the meeting and gave some conflicting messages. Having initially said that the EA would make sure that the incinerator would be regulated so that emissions would be within permitted limits, Judy Proctor later said that even before Cornwall County Council could consider giving planning permission there were issues that they would have to consider and liaise with the EA about. If this process takes too long then the Council will cease to exist, as the Unitary Authority takes over in April 2009.

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