Thursday, 23 September 2010

Liberal Democrats

See Green MP Caroline Lucas talking about the broken promises in the Lib Dem manifesto at:

I never thought to see the day when Liberals, given their first share in Government in my lifetime, proposed keeping Trident, cutting public services, privatising Royal Mail, voting against proportional representation in voting and continuing the war in Afghanistan. Strange and sad times indeed.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Allerton Quarry Incinerator

North Yorkshire County Council and York Council propose to build a £900m incinerator to dispose of waste. There will be a series of public consultations, including one at the Catterick Garrison Leisure Centre at 10.00 am on Wednesday 22/9/2010. NYCC have issued what I believe to be a misleading briefing in their propaganda sheet, the NY Times. To redress the balance, I have written what I believe to be relevant facts about this controversial proposal.

1. I understand that this is a commercial venture belonging to Amey Cespa of Spain, but is being funded by NYCC and York Council under a PFI scheme. The Councils, not the Spanish company will therefore be taking the commercial risks. This will saddle North Yorkshire Council taxpayers with 25 years of debt. The minimum total cost to NYCC taxpayers over 25 years is estimated at £1.4 billion at today’s prices, assuming all the financial assumptions are correct.

2. These assumptions include the OVER capacity that has been built into the contract, based on an unrealistic future waste tonnage INCREASE (not decline) and population growth. The contract assumes only 50% recycling is achieved by 2020 (we are nearly there now!). The contract will further financially penalise the councils if the level of waste to feed the incinerator is too LOW! It therefore discourages attempts to recycle above 50% or reduce waste generally. Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria have national recycling rates of 60% or more.

3. At least half a million jobs would be created in Europe if member states recycled 70% of their waste, according to a Friends of the Earth (FoE) study The report comes one week after José Manuel Barroso called for three million new green jobs by 2020. The Allerton Park site will only employ up to 70 staff, with a similar or greater LOSS of jobs likely at landfill sites.

4. The scheme depends on the import of at least 100,000 tonnes of commercial waste per annum to feed the incinerator. There is no guarantee that that amount of commercial waste would be available to Allerton Park, which would be a substantial financial risk to NYCC. There are currently plans for 65 new incinerators to be built in the UK, in addition to the 25 incinerators that already exist in the UK. Overcapacity in the stock of waste incinerators in Germany and Netherlands has led to the import of waste from other countries. Sheffield City Council Planners asked their incinerator operator Veolia to explain why in 2002 Veolia argued that a projected 80,000 tonne per annum shortfall could be filled with commercial waste, when now “it is now being argued that this level of commercial waste is a problem”. RPS replied: “The composition [of] commercial wastes today do not reflect the circumstances which prevailed in 2001”. ) It is likely that Amey Cespa are equally being over optimistic in their forecasts of commercial waste available.

5. DEFRA on behalf of the Government is reviewing the treatment of waste nationally. Their aim is (I quote): “The Review will look at all aspects of waste policy and delivery in England. Its main aim will be to ensure that we are taking the right steps towards creating a ‘zero waste’ economy, where resources are fully valued, and nothing of value gets thrown away.” This presumably includes being thrown into an incinerator, so the Allerton Park plan seems premature.

6. Professor Paul Connett, a leading environmental campaigner over the last 25 years, has ridiculed the “pathetic” recycling targets set by North Yorkshire County Council and York Council. “It is an out-dated technology with no flexibility and the councils are living in the 19th century if they push ahead with the incinerator plans. It simply should have no place in the 21st century. (Yorkshire Post 13/9/2010). Prof Connett claimed a 75 per cent recycling target is achievable and pointed towards cities such as San Francisco, which have made huge strides in boosting recycling rates. The Californian city hit a 50 per cent recycling rate a decade ago and is now up to 75 per cent and is aiming towards a zero waste policy by 2020.

7. All incinerators produce dioxins that are vented into the atmosphere and are a risk to health. In Sweden, the lowest levels have been measured at 0.1 ng/m3n in Malmö, Sweden, which is equipped with a dry scrubber/fabric filter. This technology is regarded as being the best technology available for municipal waste incinerators, but it is not clear whether this is included in the Allerton proposal. Either way some dioxins will still escape into the atmosphere.

8. Sweden is held up as an advertisement for incineration as 45% of waste is incinerated there. Sweden has a major industry exporting Waste to Energy schemes, often linked to district heating schemes in very cold areas. These industries date back to the 1970s and are increasingly controversial in Sweden, blamed for keeping down the country’s recycling rate, which is less than in other European countries.

9. The proposed siting of the incinerator near Knaresborough is close to a Grade 1 listed building.

10. There are fears that having commissioned an incinerator, recycling rates will plummet, as happened in Nottingham and Sheffield. Sheffield now has to negotiate efforts to improve recycling with the operators of their incinerator. York Green Party have commented “Other Councils such as Milton Keynes and Lancashire have ruled out using incineration in their waste policy. Incineration has proven again and again to be costly, polluting and deeply unpopular – and to undermine waste reduction and recycling. As a method of energy generation it is absurd. It would be far more cost effective to invest in energy conservation and renewables than building inefficient plants to dispose of material we didn’t need to produce in the first place.”

11. Materials produced by the new facility will include methane from the anaerobic slime that will be used to increase Co2 in the atmosphere by burning it to generate power. Also produced will be potentially toxic residue (bottom ash) that will be incorporated into building aggregate for use under your new drive or house. This toxic waste will be transported out via the nearby A1 and will potentially be blown from these lorries into villages adjacent to the A1, such as Brompton on Swale.

12. Workers from North Yorkshire County Council were sent out to remove signs protesting against the Allerton Park plans that had been put up in villages close to the proposed site. According to Mr Drury, the parish clerk for Little Ribston, 18 signs have gone missing in recent weeks. “It seems the council is intent on smothering any dissenting voices about the scheme to make sure that is goes through smoothly. I’d hate to think that it is a foregone conclusion that the incinerator will be built but that is the way it seems,” he said. “No-one who I have spoken to is against the Allerton Park site being used for recycling. But what every person who I have talked to is against is the incinerator.” (Yorkshire Post 03/09/2010).

13. Liberal Democrat groups and Councillors have campaigned against planned incinerators in Dovesdale, Wiltshire, Plymouth, Bedford, Marston Vale, Bardon, Suffolk, Widnes and many more places. Their general election manifesto opposed incinerators unless alternatives such as waste reduction and increased recycling were not possible. Waste reduction and recycling above 50% are not catered for in the Allerton proposal, so York and NYCC Liberal Democrat councillors should oppose this incinerator if they are going to be true to their manifesto commitments. Unfortunately some still need persuading of this.

14. Richard Lane of YRAIN (York Residents Against Incineration) says “It was no surprise that the Waste Management companies consulted all came back with plans for big burners. It’s easy and profitable to build an incinerator – just stack up the rubbish and send it up the chimney for the next 25 years. But we need to do better than this – we need to protect recycling, reduce greenhouse gases, and reduce waste. That is the sustainable route, but unfortunately also the less profitable one. Private operators looking to turn a buck will not do this without political leadership, and this has been sadly lacking.”

15. Further information can be obtained at The North Yorkshire Waste Action Group (NYWAG - website - others include the Tockwith Residents Association,, who fought a long-running campaign against an attempt to build an incinerator near to their village, and the Marton-cum-Grafton village website. There is also an online petition at