Protesters win the day in incinerator battle, with wider implications for waste management
A coalition of Kidderminster residents and environmental groups has persuaded Worcestershire County Council to vote against a controversial new incinerator, prompting a rethink of waste management policy.
Worcestershire County Council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee has voted 11-2 against plans for a new incinerator at Kidderminster, which is a victory for local campaigners who have fought the multi-million pound proposal, and, environmentalists say, highlights the need for a Government review of its waste policy. Last month the House of Commons Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee conmdemned the Government’s waste strategy for leaving “the door open to a big expansion of large scale incineration of household waste,” with incineration never to play “a major role in truly sustainable management” (see related story), although, the Environment Agency has expressed support for incineration as part of an integrated waste management policy (see related story).
The planned incinerator, which according to Friends of the Earth (FoE) would have burned 150,000 tonnes of Worcestershire’s municipal waste each year, more than 40% of the total, met with ferocious opposition. Worcestershire County Council received 1500 letters of objection to the proposal and 15,000 people signed an anti-incinerator petition, there was also a demonstration organised by local action group Stop the Kidderminster Incinerator, FoE, the Campaign for Rural England and local politicians. Campaigners said the proposal would have burnt waste that should be recycled, threaten health and led to increases in traffic. Worcestershire only recycles 10% of it’s household waste and has no local waste plan.
The West Midlands already has five incinerators, more than any other English region. FoE says that every household in the country should have a doorstep recycling scheme, a policy backed by Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, instead of more landfill or incineration, and adds that up to 80% of household waste could be recycled and composted. FoE vows to continue the fight in other communities fighting incinerators, which include Guildford, Hull, East Sussex, Maidstone, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Edmonton, North London.
“This is a tremendous victory for the people of Kidderminster and for common sense,” said Sarah Oppenheimer, Waste Campaigner at FoE. “Communities fighting similar proposals around the country are sure to take heart. Today’s decision also sends a powerful message to the Government to review its waste strategy. Their current policy encourages more and more incineration at the expense of recycling .”
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