Opposition MPs argued for excluding energy-from-waste incinerators from strategic projects in national policy at the 18 July Energy debate.

Andrew Love, Labour MP for Edmonton/London, said:

Incineration is considered in the renewable policy statement, yet it produces significant quantities of CO2. Should it not be re-designated under the fossil fuel category?

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, added that it was:

hard to see why they [incinerators] are considered a renewable source

She’s concerned long-term council contracts to provide waste for energy from waste facilities would discourage waste reduction, reuse and recycling efforts.

Dai Havard, Labour MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, said the 50MW threshold for EfW applications to come within the NPS framework has “almost invited the industry to come forward with applications for huge developments.”

The mega-incinerator proposed by Covanta in his constituency ignores the ‘proximity principle’ he said, whereby waste is treated as near as possible to where it is generated.

The energy minister Charles Hendry said EfW should only be an option after recycling and reuse had been “looked at”, and acknowledged the “strong case” for smaller, local waste facilities and technologies such as pyrolysis and gasification which he said the government was “very keen to encourage”.

Yet he asserted EfW “must also be seen as part of the waste hierarchy, to which we are absolutely committed, but we must also recognise that the generation option is better than going down the landfill route.”

This sounds desperate – no rational person claims that burning rubble, contaminated soil and glass-rich fines (from Cardiff’s MRF) are better burned than landfilled, or that incinerator ashes are not often better landfilled.

Greg Barker, under-minister at DECC, was likewise desperate, in claiming that taking EfW out of the energy policy framework would create a “free for all” – called a ‘level playing field’ by those who wish to avoid bias to incineration. Saying this “framework” for decisions “does not necessarily mean there will be automatic presumption in favour of energy from waste”, he was admitting he wanted a strong steer toward EfW.

Charles Hendry did accept Dai Havard’s proposal to meet a cross-party delegation to discuss the relationship between incineration, planning and energy generation, “delighted” to offer this little morsel to extricate the government from the hole he and Barker had dug.

Further reading – in Letsrecycle

3 Responses to “Government can’t defend bias to incineration”

  1. Incinerators: Health Hazards
    Mr Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on any effects on infant mortality and morbidity arising from residence in the vicinity of an incinerator; and if he will make a statement. [61144]
    Mr Simon Burns: The Department has not commissioned research specifically on any effects on infant mortality and morbidity arising from residence in the vicinity of a municipal waste incinerator. The Health Protection Agency published a report of its review of the latest scientific evidence on the health effects of modern municipal waste incinerators in September 2009. The report concludes that while it is not possible to rule adverse health effects 22 Jun 2011 : Column 325W
    out completely, any potential damage from modern, well-run and regulated incinerators is likely to be so small that it would be undetectable.

    22 Jun 2011 : Column 324W

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110622/text/110622w0002.htm#11062262000090

  2. The previous and current Governments are doing a Knee jerk reaction the EU landfill directive , and by calling Efw sorry incineration as a “renewable” energy
    it rebrands the process . We will end up like other countries where we will have an over capacity for EfW like Sweden has,and now importing from Norway and Italy .
    The one issue that they have over looked is Incineration creates 25-30% bottom ash so the process is not Zero to landfill !!

  3. the research that the HPA comisioned and reviewed was by a firm called enviros who are mostly employed by the incinerator industry ! . The truth is research done properly world wide proves incinerators cause sickness and death go to USEPA for the truth

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