Ignore ‘scare stories’ - waste incinerator ‘safe’
15th October 2010 - the following article is reproduced by kind permission of Lynn News
IT IS a subject that at times has – perhaps, appropriately – seemed to generate more heat than light.
But the councillor charged with making the case for the incinerator plant at Saddlebow, says she fully understands why people are concerned.
“Having attended many meetings and heard many comments from local people, I know that there is one over-riding issue here: ‘Is burning waste in an incinerator safe?’” said Ann Steward. “The short answer is ‘yes’. And that’s not Norfolk County Council saying so. That is the view of the Health Protection Agency, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and the Environment Agency (EA) who say: ‘… municipal waste incinerators used to be the largest producers of some harmful substances like dioxins, but these days, they’re among the lowest’.”
She dismisses suggestions otherwise as “scare stories” and adds: “Tough environmental permits, enforced by the EA, mean that the risk to health from a serious release of dioxins or other pollutants is minimal.
“Neither is there a serious risk from microscopic ( PM10) particles. Modern filters are very effective at removing them, and those that do get through are virtually undetectable against the general background produced by day to day things such as our cars (especially diesels) central heating systems or wood burning stoves.”
Farmers have been prominent in those opposing the plant. But Ms Steward said there was nothing to be feared for agriculture.
“The measures taken to protect our health mean there is no serious risk that the incineration of waste will taint crops,” she said.
“That has certainly not happened in places such as Jersey and the Isle of Man, where the farmers pride themselves on the quality of their produce.
“In fact, farming is itself responsible for a large proportion of the particles in our air – 23 per cent in 2007, and here in Norfolk farmers already send between 300,000 and 400,000 tonnes of animal waste a year to the energy from waste incinerator at Thetford.”
Ms Steward lists the multiple benefits of the proposal as:
- The generation of enough electricity to power 17,000 homes
- The supply of cheap heating
- The recycling of up to 45,000 tonnes of metals and aggregates
- The saving of millions of pounds in Landfill Tax every year
- The creation of 30 to 50 permanent jobs
- The cut of annual greenhouse gas emissions
And she concludes: “The main opportunities for people to express their views still lie ahead.
“We expect to appoint a preferred bidder in the near future, and their applications for planning permission and an EA permit to operate include public consultation.”