On Tuesday 5th April 2011 Stephen Gilbert (Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Newquay, Cornwall) explicitly referred to the United Kingdom Without Incineration Network. He went on to articulate a series of reasons why incineration should be opposed.

The full “debate”, as officially recorded by Hansard, is available from www.theyworkforyou.com

Here are some highlights, starting with Stephen Gilbert MP’s opening comments:

The issue that I want to bring to the House’s and the Government’s attention is the role of incineration in the UK’s strategy for dealing with domestic, municipal and other waste.

It might interest the House to know that according to the UK Without Incineration Network, about 90 applications for mass burn incinerators are being considered and 30 incinerators are operational across the country.

It is quite clear from the evidence that incineration depresses recycling rates, wastes resources and releases greenhouse gases. Schemes are often forced through against the backdrop of strong public opposition. The business model for incineration often relies on an exaggeration of future levels of waste. Incinerators create potentially harmful emissions and leave a hazardous by-product in the fly ash that remains. As well as all that, the alternatives to incineration are cheaper, more flexible, quicker to implement and better for the environment.

The question we are left with is why.

Of course, for the industry and for local authorities across the country, incineration is a quick fix. It is an off-the-shelf solution, a one-off easy win to deal with the problem. However, in life I find that the easy solutions are often not the correct solutions. Rather than simply burn our waste, we should focus on reusing and recycling, separating food and other waste, and getting the maximum value out of the stuff that we dispose of.

Incineration creates a Catch-22 situation in which we cannot achieve that value. For example, few local authorities are prepared to collect plastic waste other than bottles as there is limited potential for it to be recycled. That locks the recycling industry into a position in which it will never be able to achieve the requisite economies of scale or to recycle and reuse the maximum possible amount.

We know that private finance contracts for waste that include incineration, such as that proposed for my constituency, depress recycling rates. They must do. They rely on having a steady amount of waste to fill the incinerators in each and every year of their operation. Given that criterion, we will never be able to achieve the maximum possible level of recycling.

Accounting for recovered energy, incineration produces twice or more the CO2 per unit of power than energy produced by fossil fuels. Incinerators that do not maximise the heat that they are producing for other benefits have worse carbon emissions than gas or coal-fired power stations and a worse effect on climate change.

Mr Gilbert, MP, goes on to make the point that:

Incineration is not the way householders want their discarded material to be managed. Wherever an incinerator is planned anywhere in the country, protest groups are launched. Such people are not nimbys; they care about the future of our environment and recognise that there is a different way to do things.

Graham Evans (Conservative MP for Weaver Vale, Cheshire) commented as follows:

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on an excellent speech, which I agree with 100%. In my constituency, a business case was made for incineration and the application talked about 20% of the waste being supplied by road and 80% by rail. Come the retrospective planning permission, it changed to 80% by road and 20% by rail. That was done just so that planning permission could be obtained.

Mr Gilbert, MP, responded by saying:

I am sure that in his constituency, just as in mine, there are concerns about the health impacts of the dioxins that are emitted by incinerators, despite the assurances on the filtering process that is used. There are particular concerns about that at start-up and close-down, when dioxins are not monitored…

Time after time, when the people of Cornwall have been asked for their views, they have rejected the option of incineration. The local parish councils rejected it, the district council rejected it and the former county council’s planning committee rejected it. The community came together across the political divide to oppose the application. Despite that, the applicant, SITA, has appealed those decisions, and senior officers of Cornwall council continue to peddle the doomsday myth to the people of Cornwall that incineration is the only answer to avoid multi-million pound fines-it is not, and they are wrong.

The application now sits on the desk of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. I hope that as testament to his commitment to localism, he will back the united view of the local community and put the plans for the incinerator where they belong-in the recycling.

To read the full “debate”, as officially recorded by Hansard, go to: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2011-04-05a.979.1&s=incineration#g1013.3

2 Responses to “UKWIN in the House (of Commons)”

  1. Read “Nanoparticles and Public Health”, in Microscopy Today, Cambridge University Press, May 2011, page 72


    Biomass incineration will create totally unregulated nanoparticle emission, adding DNA disruption, autoimmune response failure and perhaps dementia to the litany of respiratory conditions that we already know. This will be 24 hours every day, every day of the week – 24/7.

  2. i am from runcorn cheshire are council agreed to a incinarator with out consultation with the people of runcorn ,now before they complete the incinarator they are already trying for more waste from scotland, are council and goverment are no better than a dictator,s

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