The UK lags behind most of its European neighbours when it comes to energy from waste plants, and has a poor track record having installed a number of older, dirtier incinerators in decades past.

This has led to a suspicious and wary public, but the Government’s waste strategy recognizes the need for a new wave of incinerators if the country is to meet its landfill diversion targets.

Public health watchdog the HPA has now reviewed the latest scientific evidence on the risks posed by modern municipal incinerators and concludes that while it’s impossible to rule out adverse health effects completely, the threat is so small as to be undetectable.

An agency spokesman said: “The evidence suggests that air pollution from incinerators makes up a fraction of one percent of the country’s particulate emissions.

“Industry and traffic account for more than fifty per cent.

“European Union Directives aimed at minimising landfill are leading to an increased use of incineration, and research suggests that this will not cause any significant adverse health effects.

“The evidence suggests that any potential damage to health of those living close to incinerators is likely to be very small, if detectable.

“The Agency therefore does not believe that studies of public health around individual incinerators are scientifically justifiable.”

Sam Bond

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