Suffolk may need series of waste plants

FIVE sites have been unveiled as possible locations for major new waste plants planned for Suffolk, which could include incinerators.

Craig Robinson

FIVE sites have been unveiled as possible locations for major new waste plants planned for Suffolk, which could include incinerators.

It has emerged that a number of multi-million pound plants may be needed across the county to cope with increasing amounts of household and industrial rubbish.

The shortlisted sites are the former sugar beet factory in Sproughton, near Ipswich; Shepherd's Grove Industrial Estate at Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds; the Eye Industrial Estate, near Brome, and the former Masons Cement Works quarry and Suffolk County Council Highways Depot, both in Great Blakenham.

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They were revealed by the county council yesterday as part of its review of its current waste management strategy.

No decision has been made on the type of facility that will be built but energy from waste - which could include an incinerator - is thought to be the preferred choice rather than mechanical biological treatment (MBT).

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Last night, communities with sites on the shortlist gave a mixed reaction to the announcement - although concerns were raised about the impact burning waste could have on the health of residents living nearby.

Peter Welham, co-ordinator of Suffolk Against Incineration and Landfill (Sail), which is based in Great Blakenham, said the cement works site came as a surprise - especially as it was the location for the proposed SnOasis winter sports development.

“I'm amazed that this is even being considered because I can't see where there will be any room,” he said. “We have grave concerns regarding the health risk an incinerator would represent as well as issues surrounding its physical impact on the surrounding landscape and the amount of extra traffic it would generate.”

David Prior, chairman of Brome and Oakley Parish Council, said he would remain open minded.

“If it's going to be done in a controlled way then I personally wouldn't have a problem with it - although I can understand why some people would have their concerns,” he said. “I know health issues have been raised in the past but I think a lot of that is people looking at it from the old days when there were clouds of smoke. In reality the technology has moved on. We will just have to wait until the final plans come out in more detail.”

Desmond Whymark, chairman of Stanton Parish Council, said the issue would be on the agenda at its meeting next Thursday.

“I wouldn't imagine there would be too many people against it up on Shepherd's Grove - the site is quite a way from residential areas,” he said. “It would be good for local employment.”

Simon Curl, chairman of Sproughton Parish Council, said: “I think we need a longer consultation period than the one that has been proposed - especially as it is over the Christmas period. It is clearly something of importance and think we should be given more time. A few months ago we were told about proposals for 11,000 homes on that site - so I'm not sure what's going on.”

Both Labour and Liberal Democrat groups at the county council have highlighted the health hazards an incinerator could present - including an increased risk of cancer - but the Conservative administration has steadfastly defended the technology saying it poses no known risks.

Members of the public will be able to comment on the sites from next Monday.

The energy from waste option, which includes producing electricity to power homes in Suffolk, would cost council taxpayers £541m over 28 years from 2011, while a biological treatment alternative has been costed at £893m - 69% more expensive.

The project is being proposed as the only viable way to dispose of rubbish because the county is running out of waste landfill capacity.

David Palk, development manager at the county council, said: “There will still be a need for landfill - certain waste can't go through those other processes - but we want to keep that capacity to a minimum.

“Landfill tax is going up and that would obviously have an impact on our own council tax so it's in our best interest to develop these facilities.

“It's possible we will need between three and four sites - we will need more than one because we're not just talking about household rubbish but industrial waste as well.”

The proposals also include four sites put forward by the waste industry to help manage non-hazardous landfill.

These include: the former mineral working at Thorington near Halesworth and existing landfill sites at Masons quarry in Great Blakenham, Foxhall quarry in Ipswich and Layham quarry near Hadleigh.

The plans would see an increase in the amount of waste currently being disposed of at these sites or extending the type of waste they handle.

N The consultation period starts next Monday and runs until January 30. Members of the public can comment on the plans by visiting , emailing or by post to Graham Gunby, minerals and waste policy manager, Suffolk County Council, Endeavour House, 8 Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2BX.

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