Campaigners protest against waste plant

CAMPAIGNERS were out in force at the weekend to oppose plans for a huge waste site which they claim will be used as an incineration plant.

James Hore

CAMPAIGNERS were out in force at the weekend to oppose plans for a huge waste site which they claim will be used as an incineration plant.

Demonstrators from Friends of the Earth gathered at the steps of County Hall in Chelmsford to highlight their concerns about the “massive” Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) plant at Rivenhall, near Witham.

The plant, along with another one in Basildon, will separate black bag waste by mechanical processes and recover materials which can then be recycled.

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However, the MBT proposals have angered green campaigners because the leftover waste will then be turned in pellets which they say will be incinerated at a rate of 250,000 tonnes each year.

Last night Essex County Council admitted the waste would be used as fuel pellets, saying they could one day be as useful as oil, coal or gas.

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Friends of the Earth have also criticised a council questionnaire about waste, saying residents had been mislead.

The results of the council's survey showed the overwhelming majority of people were in favour of MBT and 88% supported the residues from MBT being used as “fuel for energy”.

However, Paula Whitney, of Colchester Friends of the Earth, said the questionnaire had been “simplistic and misleading”.

She said: “What happened to Lord Hanningfield and the Conservative county council's manifesto and pledge of 'no incineration' back in 2001 when they took control of ECC with a landslide victory?

“Why didn't they change the waste plan to exclude incineration from Essex after we proved in the High Court that there was no legal requirement to include it as they said?”

But last night, Tracy Chapman, the county councillor in charge of the waste policy, said: “We have an application for an MBT at Basildon and a private developer is putting in for the Rivenhall one.

“There is no site yet to come forward - what everyone is doing is waiting for us to finally make up our minds - it may be that it is not on any of these site and it may not even be in the county - I can't say 'yes' or 'no' as I don't know yet.

“The council strategy is that we will recycle up to 60% eventually and then we will have a couple of the MBT plants to take out as much as possible from the black bags.

“We can use the solid fuel that is leftover from the process as you would gas, coal or oil and they are calling it incineration.

“I call it using a valuable product which is something we would much rather do. What surprises me the most is that Friends of the Earth did not bother putting a response into the council's consultation.

“They have a very fundamentalist view about what we should do about waste. Why would you landfill a valuable resource? I see absolutely no reason to do that, it would be a waste of public money and I am not prepared to do that.”

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