Monday, 20 August 2012

Cabinet told to think again on incinerator plan

This morning I was part of a call-in meeting which voted to ask Cornwall Council's cabinet to think again about the incinerator plan. We considered that the cabinet had been given misleading information about the likely timescale of developing a Plan B and that they had failed to consider a reasonable request for an independent assessment of the alternatives.

So what's the story about the incinerator?

The problem is that incineration is old technology and the council is refusing to consider alternatives. Indeed, one officer today made the suggestion that any other option would be risky and was not yet proven. Local campaigners in St Dennis are asking for consideration to be given to alternatives which might be better technology and which reduce the impact on their village.

More than that, the planned incinerator would have a capacity of 240,000 tonnes per year. Even with our poor level of recycling, Cornwall Council only has to deal with 180,000 tonnes per year and that number will only go down as recycling rates improve and changes in the law mean that we could not incinerate putrescent (ie food) waste and recyclables. So we are building an incinerator much bigger than we need. And if we recycle more paper and plastics (the stuff that burns easily) the incinerator will have to use even more fuel to get rid of what is left.

Now it has been revealed that the contractor is considering building the bottom ash facility (ie the plant that deals with the bulk of what is left after incineration) in a different location. But whilst the whole process of a Plan B is said by officers to be likely to take 7-9 years to sort out and that this would mean massively increased land fill costs which will impact on other services, they are confident that a planning application for a new ash handling plant could be done in 6 months and the building constructed in another 6 months. I think that is pretty unrealistic.

Through lots of questioning today, it became clear that the Cabinet had not properly considered the details of the Plan B and had been given the wrong information about how long it would take. The committee therefore voted by 11 votes to 5 to send the issue back to the Cabinet to think again.

The eleven who voted for referral were:

Roy Taylor (Lib Dem)
Jeremy Rowe (Lib Dem)
Alex Folkes (Lib Dem)
Les Donnithorne (Lib Dem)
Edwina Hannaford (Lib Dem)
Andrew Long (MK)
Fred Greenslade (Independent)
Judith Haycock (Independent)
Mike Eddowes (Conservative)
Pat Lambshead (Conservative)
Jenny Stewart (Conservative)

The four who voted against referring back were:

Collin Brewer (Independent)
Bob Egerton (Independent)
Tony Martin (Conservative)
Jon Stoneman (Conservative)

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