Incinerator Planning Application - Write a Letter

The incinerator application to extend the range and percentage of imported waste hasn't gone through planning yet.  It is thought that increased pressure on our local politicians may sway the vote to oppose this application. Maureen has produced a list of 19 reasons to reject the application. Points 1-5 are about recycling, 6-15 are about transportation and the other points are general issues.

Peter requested that members contact their councillors and MPs objecting to the application.

To: Your MP and councillors
Ref no: 12/03137/FUL

I object to Veolia’s current application to vary Condition 3 of permission 01/10135/FUL.

1.There is no evidence that the additional feedstock would be truly residual.  The 2007 Waste Strategy states that waste that could be recycled should not be incinerated.  What evidence is there that the imported waste could not otherwise be recycled?

2.The proposal would discourage the reduction, re-use, recycling and/or composting of waste in the areas that would export material.

3.The decline in MSW arisings will continue into the future with targets set out within the Waste Strategy England (2007) with a 50% recycling benchmark for every local authority.

4.To burn waste to generate energy is a highly destructive practice in view of dwindling resources.  The UK already uses 2.5 planets worth of resources and burning waste must be in the top ten of reasons why this is the case.

5.The plant is not pivotal to the city’s low carbon strategy as it wastes resources, which could otherwise be recycled.  It is estimated that 97% of household waste can be recycled and Sheffield rates are some of the lowest in the country because of the will to feed this monster of an incinerator.

6.Veolia allows commercial considerations to override environmental good practice.

7.Importing waste from such huge distances increases its carbon footprint making the ERF a high carbon emitting plant.  It was originally approved as a low carbon facility.

8.Veolia could use local C&I waste if they lowered their prices so their costs were more competitive.  Much of this is landfilled, which is cheaper despite landfill tax.

9.In 2009 over 100,000 tonnes of C&I waste was sent to landfills outside Sheffield.  Some of this could have been directed to the Sheffield ERF.  Considering it is also subject to landfill tax and greater distances travelled it is questionable why Veolia can’t tender waste disposal more competitively.  If this were redirected there would be no need to import waste from a wider area.  If the only alternative were to supplement the ERFs feedstock with fossil fuels, it would make good sense to offer lower rates for C&I waste.

10.The 2001 application was granted on condition only 10% of waste was imported from outside the Sheffield Area.  What is the point in making such conditions, which are subsequently ignored when the applicant finds its profits falling?

11.The ERF is not operating at optimum efficiency when the carbon footprint of the waste is forever increasing.  To use this as an excuse to import waste from an ever-widening area is erroneous.  The truth is the ERF will not generate optimum profits if it is not working to capacity.

12.To continue to allow Veolia to extend the range it can source waste is merely feeding the idea that huge incinerators are a good idea.  It’s time to face up to the fact that the size of the Sheffield incinerator should never have been increased.  In 2001 Sheffield Friends of the Earth warned of the change in European waste legislation but Onyx chose not to listen.  ‘Of the ERF’s 225,00 tonne per annum permitted capacity, only approximately 110,000 to 115,000 tonnes of MSW and 50,000 to 55,000 tonnes of C&I waste are likely to be available year on year from within Sheffield.’  This phrase, on page 43 of the Supporting Statement, sums it all up.  A 125,000 tpa facility would have been sufficient and recycling rates would have improved due to pressure to reduce waste.

13.Transporting waste over vast distances to be burned can hardly be described as ‘a more sustainable waste management solution’.

14.Extending the catchment area will not facilitate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.  These will increase due to the distance the waste has to travel to the incinerator.  Landfill causes a slower release of gases and therefore has a lower carbon footprint than incineration.  Many items currently landfilled could be recycled.

15.Using the proximity principle it would leave less of a carbon footprint to transport waste to Nottingham’s Eastcroft ERF from Newark and Sherwood, Amber Valley, Ashfield and Mansfield.  Is there capacity for this ERF, which is owned by Nottingham County Council, to take Nottinghamshire’s waste?

16. If the ERF burns less waste this will improve air quality in the centre of Sheffield due to decreased emissions.

17.The District Energy Network does not prevent over 21,000 tonnes of CO2 from being released across the city.  In fact the same tonnage of emissions is generated by the ERF.  If the city were to recycle this waste there would be no emissions and even landfill is better for emissions than incineration.

18.Failure to secure the requested variation will result in reduced plant efficiencies, potential unscheduled shut-downs and reduced outputs of electricity and District heating benefits, and use of increasing quantities of fossil fuel to augment fuel supplies.  If there is insufficient waste why not shut the ERF down in the summer when the District heating system is not needed?  Electricity generation in the summer is not nearly as efficient a process.

19.This is an attempt to make the Sheffield ERF a sub-regional facility.  It makes no sense to bring in waste from outside Sheffield to burn in its centre.  This is a city centre facility to burn Sheffield’s own waste.  Imported waste should never have been contemplated and should be opposed as not the purpose of the central siting of the ERF.