Suffolk incinerator plan moves closer

INCINERATION of Suffolk's waste moved a stage nearer yesterday, even though the county's ruling Cabinet insisted it had not closed the door on other options.

By Graham Dines

INCINERATION of Suffolk's waste moved a stage nearer yesterday, even though the county's ruling Cabinet insisted it had not closed the door on other options.

Members of the all-Tory Cabinet unanimously backed plans to draw up an outline business case for the disposal of the county's residual waste in one incinerator, which will cost £500m over a 25 year period.

Eddy Alcock, the portfolio holder for environment and waste, said the county had no more landfill space for rubbish which could not be recycled.

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“Even if we reached the performance of the Netherlands, the leading country in Europe for recycling at 65%, we would still have to dispose of 35% waste,” said Mr Alcock.

“The Dutch, French, Danes, Swedes, German, and Belgians all incinerate the residue of their recycled waste.”

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He said Suffolk would not be building an old style incinerator, which pumped out pollutants into the atmosphere. New technology had reduced dioxins by 99.8%, leaving just 0.2% to be released.

Mr Alcock added: “Methane gas released by landfill material is 21 more times harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, leading to global warming and rising sea level.

“No site has yet been chosen for an incinerator, but wherever it is built, it will be in character with Suffolk's unique environment. It will be sited near a major road and hopefully near to a rail link.

“All seven districts in the county will have a transfer station, where waste will be loaded onto either large trucks or trains for transporting to an incinerator.

“However, we are not closing our minds to an alternative to incineration. We will test the outline business case in the market and bidders will be free to propose other solution.”

But any alternative could cost each council taxpayer an extra up to £39 each a year, and because of Government capping on tax increases, which would lead to cuts in other services.

Cabinet ministers were warned by opposition members who were invited to speak that what they were proposing was likely to meet with massive opposition.

Labour's Sandy Martin demanded to know why there were a substantial number of households in Suffolk without three waste bins, and why waste minimisation projects such as Ipswich Furniture Project and the Real Nappy Network had had their funding cut the council.

Liberal Democrat John Field forecast 10,000 extra lorry movements each year in the county taking waste to the incinerator.

He also feared problems during any period of failure which put an incineration plant out of action.

Labour's Kevan Lim said: “Why is Suffolk prepared to carry on with technology rejected through public opposition elsewhere in the country?

“I hope you are not locking yourselves into a situation where you are preparing to spend millions of pounds on a very unpopular proposal.”

The Cabinet is expected to make a final decision in February on whether to build an incinerator and then the search will begin for a somewhere to build it.

Any plant is unlikely to begin operations before 2013.

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