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Plans for waste incinerator go up in smoke as campaigners force u-turn

 

Overwood incinerator planned to burn 33,000 tons of waste

Environmental campaigners have hailed news that plans for a major incinerator at Stonehouse in South Lanarkshire have been cancelled after sustained community opposition. 

Viridor, one of the UK’s biggest waste management companies, has cancelled plans to build what would have been Scotland’s largest incinerator.

The decision comes as the Scottish Government’s independent review considers the future of incineration.

The Overwood incinerator could have burned 330,000 tonnes of rubbish and would have led to a substantial rise in vehicles on the road in the area and subsequently a rise in air and noise pollution too. 

Kim Pratt, circular Economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “This is a huge victory for the Stonehouse community and they should be proud of their efforts.

“Viridor have made this decision before the findings of the Scottish Government’s review into incineration are published next month, signalling that even large waste management companies know that time is up for incineration in Scotland.

“This decision shows that the current moratorium on new incineration applications should be extended immediately and that Scotland needs an exit strategy from incineration if it is to meet its climate goals.

“We need to see a greater focus on reducing waste and recycling, and we must stop burning our valuable resources if we are to bring down the consumption levels that are wrecking the planet."

Dovesdale Action Group led the local campaign against the project, blocking earlier plans for a similar incinerator nearby and leading the huge community response opposing the Overwood plant.

John Young, from the Dovesdale Action Group said: “The announcement by Viridor to withdraw their proposal for the largest incinerator in Scotland is testament to the strength of the campaign here in South Lanarkshire to protect our communities from the impact it would have had on our rural landscape, public health, the environment and climate change.

“This is the second time we have fought and defeated proposals for such a development. 

“This campaign has raised the issues of incineration to a national level in understanding the threats such proposals have on our climate targets, recycling targets and protecting communities across Scotland. Today 'nature' is telling us the time has come to think differently about how we manage our waste and produce goods. 

“Dovesdale Action Group and communities want to see a national policy in Scotland that reflects our aspirations of a cleaner, greener society and we hope that the national review of incineration reflects the need for change and sees Scotland take an international role in leading that change globally.”

Scottish household waste data shows that incineration rates have risen rapidly over the last decade. In 2011, households burnt 70,000 tonne of waste but by 2020 that figure had risen to 606,000 tonnes.

Over the same period the amount of waste recycled has fallen and Scotland now has the worst recycling rates in the UK.

Scotland currently has six working incinerators for household waste and a capacity to burn 1.6 million tonnes of waste per year.

 

Comments

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Michael Ryan
3 months ago

Viridor accused the late Dr Dick van Steenis and myself of "scaremongering" some years ago in an article in a Berwickshire paper about the link between incinerator emissions and infant mortality, when they wished to build another incinerator. Using ONS data at electoral ward level in England & Wales (Vital Statistics 4) I'd seen a clear pattern of higher rates of infant mortality in electoral wards near incinerators.

Using a long set of ONS data showing infant death rates in Councils, I was not surprised to see sudden post-incinerator rises in rates of infant deaths in Councils exposed to incinerator emissions.

Those paid to protect our health must have noticed such trends, starting with Edmonton incinerator in 1971 and all incinerators thereafter.

Edmonton incinerator started over fifty years ago. When I looked at infant death rates in “groups of four” electoral wards in London’s 625 wards aggregated for the twelve years 2002-2013, the highest group was a cluster around the Edmonton incinerator where four wards, two in Enfield and one each in Waltham Forest and Haringey, had a total of 12,109 live births and 111 infant deaths recorded by ONS, i.e. an infant mortality rate of 9.2 per 1,000 live births. The lowest group of four wards were in Bromley, where three infant deaths and 5,119 live births were recorded in the same 12-year period, i.e. an infant death rate of 0.6 per 1,000 live births. The rate in the cluster around Edmonton incinerator was fifteen times higher than in Bromley.

Following my FoI request in 2012, ONS released infant mortality rates in all London Boroughs from 1970 to 2010. The graph of post-SELCHP rises in rates of infant mortality in Lewisham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets was the first such graph I produced. Wandsworth was included and the rates were all similar and falling steeply in all four Boroughs before the SELCHP incinerator started in 1993. After 1993, the rate in Wandsworth, which is rarely exposed to emissions, continued to fall but infant death rates suddenly rose in Lewisham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets.

As long ago as 1913, it was clear to at least one politician that there wasn’t any link between poverty and infant mortality. The Rt Hon John Burns MP was quoted as follows in the Manchester Evening News of 4 August 1913:

“Lancashire is industrial, its industry is a marvel to everybody. Commerce is very prosperous, and, broadly speaking, its people have regular work and relatively good wages. No county in the kingdom has a lower pauperism, but it stands highest in the list for infant mortality.”

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Michael Ryan
2 months ago

The start year of the incinerator in North East Lincolnshire is 2004, not 2014 as typed.