Thursday, 29 July 2010
Biffa - Another proposed incinerator
Just before we launched this Blog some of us were informed by letter and shiny leaflet of the plan by Biffa to apply for planning permission to build an incinerator at the Old Skelton Grange Power Station to process 300,000 tonnes of rubbish. This huge facility differs from the proposed incinerator at Cross Green or Knostrop in three main ways
* This incinerator will burn non-hazardous industrial and commercial waste; the one proposed by the council will process household waste for Leeds and the surrounding area
* This incinerator will make no attempt at all to recycle any material, everything will be burned; the proposed Household Waste Treatment Plant would attempt to recycle further materials (a process known as ‘dirty recycling’) once the rubbish has been delivered to the site and burn only what can not be re-used or recycled
* This is a private commercial venture. The council’s plan is for an incinerator with start up finance using Government funding in the form of PFI credits, with the rest of the funding coming from the Council Tax payers of Leeds over a 25 to 30 year period
This facility will have the capacity to produce 21 megawatts of electricity, enough to provide the power for 42,000 homes, though there is no guarantee that it will actually do that.
Biffa is a very large and powerful company with both national and international links. It has a great deal of money and connections to put into the project and did indeed splash out on consultation meetings, leaflets and setting up a dedicated web-site for interested people to look at their plans.
The site of this proposed development was one of the four original sites for the building of the Leeds City Council Household Waste Incinerator, indeed it was the most favourable site of the four according to the original Jacobs Report, however without a word of explanation it disappeared from the list of suitable sites and we were left with only the two sites in Cross Green or Knostrop which are, quite literally, on our doorstep.
We are all told repeatedly, by all those involved in these proposed incinerators, that modern incinerators are completely safe; they give off no harmful emissions. That the noise produced by this industrial process which has to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year will be minimal. Any problems with pest infestation, smells and insects activity, particularly in the warmer months, will not be very noticeable.
Our concerns about the amount of traffic which would be generated by Lorries supplying the raw material for either or both of these plants are more often brushed aside than addressed. The noise and emissions from these Lorries are, we are again told, negligible, we are not in any way convinced of that.
If this plant was to be given the go ahead this area of Leeds, the Lower Aire Valley, would have FOUR incinerators, one landfill and one sewage works.
Our chances of attracting inward investment to an area which would have in effect become an Incinerator Park would, we are sure, be severely damaged.
The residents of this area feel that their concerns and opinions are not being given the consideration and weight they would be given if we were the residents of a leafy and more prosperous suburb.
This area, because of its unique position, being so close to the city centre is ideal for more regeneration. The Victorian East End Park purchased in 1856, is a jewel set in the densely packed housing but with the area having excellent traffic links to the city centre; the transport hub and the suburbs it is an area with enormous potential.
It has been badly neglected for many years. The destruction of the local industries of engineering and tailoring meant many people have left the area and house prices have dropped, leading to many houses being sold to Buy-to-Let absentee landlords but the area has a community and both older residents and newcomers do not want another incinerator here.
They wish to attract more young people into the area to the starter homes at affordable prices and to do that we need to be able to offer the kind of area, facilities and community these people will want to belong to.
The argument is always made, usually by people who do not want these developments themselves, that they have to go somewhere, that it is for the greater good, well the people here feel that they have done more than their share of bearing the burden of cleaning up the waste of this city and have seen nothing in return and it is time for someone else to carry the load for a while.