Suffolk poised for waste incinerator

SUFFOLK is likely to build a waste incinerator to turn the county's growing mountain of refuse into electricity - but assurances have been given that it will not be a smoke-belching polluter of the atmosphere.

By Graham Dines

SUFFOLK is likely to build a waste incinerator to turn the county's growing mountain of refuse into electricity - but assurances have been given that it will not be a smoke-belching polluter of the atmosphere.

The county council, facing new Government penalties to deal with the volume of household and industrial rubbish being dumped at landfill sites, is being recommended to follow the European model of converting waste into fuel.

It is likely to reject the other green alternative of building a mechanical biological treatment plan because it does not want to risk council tax payers' cash on experimental technology which has yet to prove itself.


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However, if a business case is approved by the authority next year, Suffolk will embark on a project which will cost £500m over 25 years. This is the amount of money a private operator would charge to build and operate an incinerator which turns waste material into energy.

Unless the county acts to reduce landfill, taxpayers will be facing an annual bill of £15.5m by 2012 - more than £63 for the average Band D council taxpayer.

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But because of Government capping, the extra cost would mean services such as social care, roads, and libraries would have to be cut to cover the cost.

An interim report is to be considered by councillors next week and Eddy Alcock, portfolio holder for environment, waste management and economic development, said: “Suffolk is committed to increasing recycling and composting to the maximum - but even then there will be left over rubbish.

“We all have to take personal responsibility for waste we generate in our homes and workplaces. Landfill is no longer the answer - it is bad for the environment and will cost a fortune.”

Faced with punitive Government fines for the amount of waste dumped at landfill sites and the danger to the environment of emissions of methane gas from tips - methane is 25 times more dangerous for global warming than carbon dioxide pollutants - councillors are setting their sights on building an energy from waste incinerator, which will provide enough power a year for 28,000 homes.

As well as contributing to the national grid, the Suffolk incinerator could have surplus capacity to heat local homes and businesses.

Mr Alcock said the county council will hold discussions with the county's seven districts and the public on the future of waste disposal, with a final report appearing in 12 months.

However, no site has been identified for the project although Mr Alcock said it should be close to a national grid heavy duty connector, a main road and possibly a rail link.

“There will not be hundreds of trucks driving from all over Suffolk to an incinerator,” he said.” Transfer stations in each district will be used to load waste onto big trucks and it is possible we could also use rail transport.

“If we decide to go down the energy from incineration route, the incinerator will not be built in a

residential area. It will be of industrial scale and must blend in architecturally with its surroundings.”

Sandy Martin, Labour spokesman for environment, waste and economic development, said:

“Giant incinerators will cost Suffolk more in council tax, affect local house prices and pollute Suffolk's environment. We need new household waste centres, more bottle banks, weekly collection of communal bins from flats, and various other measures.

“All of these will cost far less than an incinerator but the Conservatives refuse to consider them.”

The county council has launched a dedicated web link for the project - www.suffolk.gov.uk/thefutureofwaste

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