For those who have not already heard the good news, Surrey County Council has dropped plans for two controversial incinerators. One reason given for this dramatic change of policy is that quantities of waste arising have fallen. Surrey will now concentrate its efforts (and its budget) waste minimisation, increasing recycling and treating food waste using anaerobic digestion (AD).
This policy shift represents a very hard-earned victory for local campaign groups who have for more than a decade advocated in favour of more sustainable approaches to waste management and against waste incineration.
According to an ENDS Report article:
Surrey will instead promote further recycling and work with its waste contractor, Sita subsidiary Surrey Waste Management, to develop a smaller gasification plant and anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities for food waste. The two plants are expected to cost £50m, £150m less than the two incinerators.
The council had twice given Surrey Waste Management planning permission to build an incinerator capable of taking 110,000 tonnes of waste a year at Clockhouse Quarry in Capel. But the High Court quashed the plans in 2002 and again in February 2009 causing Surrey to reassess its plans. Another, 150,000t/year incinerator planned for Trumps Farm in Longcross also proved controversial.
…There have been rumours of incineration projects holding back potential food waste collections for some time because they need to maintain waste inputs. Falling residual waste arisings also appear to be affecting some incinerator proposals.
ENDS is also reporting how:
Dorset council withdrew a request to the government for £80m in PFI funding in December, saying that falling residual waste meant it could no longer justify being tied into a long-term contract. The reference technology for the project was an 115,000t/year incinerator.
Hull and East Riding councils have also dropped a PFI bid recently, although on financial grounds. Another, by three councils in Bedfordshire, has been undermined by two of them withdrawing. Bedford and Luton both cited the scheme’s cost.
Friends of the Earth waste and resources campaigner Michael Warhurst is quoted as saying:
I think waste volumes going down has made councils think twice about 25-year deals. The financial situation is playing a role, but so is a greater appreciation of what can be achieved through recycling and composting. There is also concern over the climate effects of incineration. Although there are still projects out there it looks like the tide is turning.
In mid-November 2009 Get Surrey reported Celebrations as incinerator plans dropped:
Controversial plans to build incinerators in Surrey have been scrapped in favour of a ‘flagship’ eco park. Surrey County Council bosses announced…that following years of campaigning, thousands of objectors against incinerators at Capel, and Trumps Farm in Longcross, near Chertsey, had finally won.
Leader of the council Andrew Povey will be instructing that planning applications for the incinerators, also known as energy-from-waste (EfW) plants, should be withdrawn.
The news has been welcomed by protesters strongly opposed to incinerators on the grounds of environmental and health concerns. Dino Adriano has been campaigning against the Capel incinerator for more than 10 years, and was involved in high Court action over the Surrey Waste Plan.
“Obviously we are completely delighted, the county council have finally got the right sort of leadership and they’re looking at this issue in the right way,” he said.
Campaigner against the Trumps Farm incinerator, Constantin Schwarz, of Residents Against Incineration, is quoted as saying:
I think it’s great news, it’s fantastic now, especially in light of the climate talks going on, people are more sensitive towards climate change. I can’t believe it, it’s been such a long slog, if you look at Capel and the High Court injunction, but there was still the planning application, it has never been removed.
Meanwhile, Runnymede Borough Council was celebrating the end of a proposal which had been “regarded with gloom” in the area. Leader of the council, Councillor John Furey, is reported to have said:
We have worked closely with the county council throughout 2009 and are absolutely delighted to see that they have chosen to drop the plans for an incinerator in this corner of Runnymede [at Trumps Farm]. The road system is not sufficient for the potentially huge increase of traffic to and from the site, that could have been travelling along country roads just not made for such use. The site was near several communities and amenities that shouldn’t have had to suffer this.