Get what you can from incinerator – councillor

THE first waste incinerator in Suffolk will create enough electricity to power a town the size of Lowestoft – and scores of new jobs in Mid Suffolk.

More details of the new plant, expected to be built on the county council’s highways depot site at Great Blakenham, have now become clear.

The incinerator will take domestic waste from across the county – as well as some commercial waste – but will not “import” any rubbish from outside Suffolk.

And its promoter Sita wants the massive plant – 38 metres high with two 80-metre chimneys – to become a “good neighbour” and become part of the community.

Now opposition councillors who have fought the plan since it was first proposed two years ago now fear that the battle to stop it has been lost.

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Liberal Democrat environment spokesman John Field, whose division includes the proposed site of the plant in Great Blakenham, said he now expected the plant to go ahead.

He said: “As a group we still oppose this proposal but I have to say I cannot see the county council changing its mind now and I expect the incinerator to be built at Blakenham.

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“But there are many concerns outstanding and I think the communities have to look at how they can maximise the benefit from the proposal.

“There is a wind farm going ahead at the Eye Airfield and for every megawatt that produces a year, the company will give �1,000 to local communities. Something like that should happen in Blakenham.”

Waste management company Sita is the county council’s preferred bidder to build and operate the plant. A decision on who should develop the site will be made later this year.

A planning application is expected to follow in December, and consultations are expected to continue throughout 2011 with work starting in early 2012 and the plant coming on line in 2014.

Mr Field said local residents had been impressed by the openness of Sita.

“They have already made their presence felt with an exhibition and leaflet drops. Their proposals to involve the community once it is built is also something that is appreciated.”

Sita project manager James Dowell said the incinerator would only handle waste from Suffolk, and for that reason it would not be connected to the rail line beside it.

“All the waste will be brought a comparatively short distance by lorry. A rail link is only needed if we were bringing it from further afield like London – and there is no intention of doing that.

“The number of lorries should not increase substantially because they are already using the road to go to the landfill site – it’s just that they will be coming here instead of going there.”

Mr Field was doubtful about that: “There will still be lorries going to the landfill site with commercial rubbish, so there are bound to be more lorries on these roads. There is a great deal of concern about that.”

Mr Dowell said the plant would be a good neighbour to local people – the proposals included a visitor centre and community centre which could be used by anyone but would be particularly useful for school trips.

“The design of the whole building aims to allow it to blend in with the local countryside and we aim to make it easier for people to relate to the Gipping Valley which is a very beautiful area – there will be views of the valley from the visitor centre,” he added.

Green councillor Andrew Stringer still had many reservations: “However you run a plant like this there will be toxins at the end – and they will have to be taken to landfill sites outside Suffolk because we don’t have any sites for toxic waste.

“It would still be better to have a system of anerobic digestion which gets rid of waste and creates methane which can be burnt to create power.

“The incinerator may be better than putting rubbish in landfill, but there are many solutions better than that – moving to more recycling for a start!”

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