Friday, January 08, 2010

Say no to the Hartlebury Incinerator?

Well I said I'd look into it so here we go. First off the bare details - a company wishes to build an incinerator on vacant land on the Hartlebury Trading Estate, this will burn off non-recyclable rubbish to generate electricity. Some people are annoyed at this.

Let me start on the pro side. They're building this on an industrial site, this is close to a main road and, unlike another proposal, won't try to send lorries through the middle of a town. There's even a railway line and station nearby so if someone actually fired a couple of neurons together they could create a slip from that and move in the waste via rail (yeah right as if we have that level of joined-up thinking around here). It's burning waste that would otherwise be left to rot (or not) in landfill sites and thus will be generating electricity which will reduce our dependency on gas.

Onto the cons. It's a tall building standing at 35m (45m/80m stack from Say No) which is taller than the surrounding buildings and thus dominate the skyline. It'll be running 24 hours a day with unknown levels of noise. Although close to a main road the actual connection to the estate is Crown Lane and we call things lanes for a reason. As it's burning rubbish it'll be generating various pollutants which will supposedly be filtered out before any residue is released. On the whining side add in the reduction of property values near it and the 'we've already got one land fill site, why should we host another?'.

The main focus of the nay group can be found at Say No to the Incinerator. Normally I wouldn't be harsh with a site that's obviously amateur created so if you're the author please take the following as well-mentioned offerings.

First off the main page title should never be left at "Home" remember this is what Google will use both as index and link. In a search for "hartlebury incinerator" you just made the first page.

Secondly check it works in a browser other than Internet Explorer. Yes that's the one 'everyone' uses and no if you're using a WYSIWG creator there's probably little you can do, but check in out in Firefox at least.

Information - people on your side (or not) will want to quote you, journalists in particular and it's your job to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. That means providing the main thrust of your arguments in simple sound-bites and in a form they can copy and paste. That means don't use an picture of text and don't have your information appear in a non-HTML document particular not PowerPoint. Put everything in text and in standard HTML web format. If you want to have a flyer style information pack then there are plenty of free PDF writing software out there.

Assumptions - Have only the one "I don't know what you're talking about" what's this incinerator, exactly where are they planning on putting it?

Okay niggles aside into the meat of the arguments as presented by "Say No".

The first on the list is pollutants and the main attack is using a report from the British Society for Ecological Medicine. Now not to seem immodest in my delvings I've come across a fair number of organisations and this one left me with an "Eh who the hell are they?". From their own site

The BSEM promotes the study and good practice of allergy, environmental and nutritional medicine for the benefit of the public and supports doctors who use the insights of ecological medicine to help patients.
Now hey I've no problem with allergy medicines, but what the heck is an "environmental medicine"? BSEM doesn't tell us. It does however go into detail for "ecological medicine" feel free to grab a dictionary and look up those two to spot the difference. Sadly the first line, or picture in this case, is a simple graph with four 'aspects' all pointing to the centre of "Individuality" oddly enough after that it makes some fine if vague points about nutrition, toxins, allergies, genetic bias and general environment (which really covers the first three again).

Browsing through it appears that at its heart the BSEM seems to be an organisation set-up to expose the eeeevils of toxic substances and how we'd all be better off eating organically grown nut bars. I'm not going to get into the truth or not of those claims merely that BSEM has a bias towards 'these things are bad'. So any report that appears from them telling me that pollutants are bad I've got to take with a pinch of salt (not too much though that's bad for you).

So the first leg of the arguments are on shaky ground. These factories produce pollutants there's no question about that, but the levels are mandated by government and the only evidence that these levels are too high is being produced by a group with an interest in saying they're too high.

Next air pollution again, this time a report from the US about fine particulates and increases in lung cancer etc. Now we have the logical leap - Incinerators produce fine particulates, fine particulates cause lung cancer, ergo we shouldn't have an incinerator. As above levels are mandated and there's nothing as presented here to suggest this incinerator will be producing any such pollutants at all let alone distributing them through the atmosphere.

Next the BSEM again with a quote about the poor monitoring of such incinerators. Sadly this quote is meaningless and is based on subjective analysis (by the BSEM).

Dr Paul Connett gets quoted next in that waste incinerators have left high levels of dioxins in food. This is a quote from a 11 year old paper. It's certainly worth reading in full as it gives a full list of problems and what must be done to fix them. Remember it's 11 year's old now.

Then Greenpeace another possibly biased organisation quoting pollution offences against prosecutions. Companies will try to get away with what they can tell me something new. Without knowing exactly what these "offences" were we've nothing to judge the seriousness of them or if they're systemic to the industry.

Finally a quote from the EU about not disposing of waste in a way that's endangering human life; define levels of endangerment that everyone agrees with and I'll happily accept that statement. Otherwise pointless.

So in fact every argument on the Information page has in fact been about pollution. If you want another take visit the peer-reviewed article that appeared in a 2000 edition of Chemosphere regarding dioxin emmissions. Conclusion - no noticeable change

There's more on the powerpoint slide, ignoring the multiple pollution arguments I've already dealt with. Noise and smell from 24/7 operation. Hmm this is on an industrial estate so presumably that'll be more noise and smell? Deflation of property values - don't care. Sorry does that seem harsh? Well you're the one being selfish the only affect that has is on you. Visual impact - yep I'll concede that it's going to be tall and that may ruin a view which in turn will decrease visitors and thus have a wider impact, at the same time I'll concede possible effects on wildlife. Finally the numbers of HGVs using the lane. Well yeah who was dumb enough to build an industrial estate next to a main road and have the only links via the residential lanes? However as mentioned there is a railway track next to it.


I'm trying to be objective here, but the bias of some of the arguments means I can't take a lot of them seriously. That's not to say that questions shouldn't be raised. By all means push for disclosure on increased traffic levels and alternatives, ask how they plan to scrub the toxins and what levels they'll be dealing with, and ask why certain other schemes haven't been investigated or why they were rejected. Insist that it be submerged more to lower the height; feel free to fight. Sorry though from the arguments here and other than those small reservations I've already stated I can't see why they shouldn't build it.

[Update - not helped by this article in the Shuttle. Arguments presented here - blot on the landscape, falling house prices, more traffic; in other words this is going to be bad for 'me'. Makes them sound like NIMBYs]


Active Campaigner said...

Dear Mad Ranter,
First of all get your facts straight about this incinerator.
Mercia claim that this is burning non -recyclable waste however if you read THEIR scoping document in actual fact 16% is paper and card, 4% is glass and a massive 47% is classed as organic material, ALL OF WHICH can be recycled in some way rather than burnt.
Secondly while the building may be 35m high, the incinerator stack itself is 80 metres high, slight difference perhaps?
Aside from all the health issues and other issues like noise,pollutants, smell, contamination of farmland and killing of wildlife, this proposal DISCOURAGES recycling as the council have to guarantee 200,000 tonnes of waste to be burnt, EVERY YEAR for the next 25 years.
Mercia's proposals also assume that waste will INCREASE over the next 25 years.
The figures simply do NOT add up.
A new recycling plant at Norton can accomodate 105,000 tonnes of rubbish every year.
From Hereford and Worcester's waste figures it appears that around 160,000 tonnes waste go to landfill each year.
If 105,000 tonnes can now be recycled, doing the maths this only leaves 55,000 tonnes to be incinerated.
This volume does not justify the £120m initial cost.This excludes future running costs.
Therefore in order to get the volume up to 200,000 tonnes they will need to ship in the waste from other areas like Birmingham.
All of this does not take into account new legislation about recycling batteries/plastics etc which will be the main source of fuel for this incinerator.
Assuming you are a taxpayer, you and I will be paying for this as it will be funded by tax credits given by Defra.Where does Defra get it's money from- you and I!!!!
We take onboard your comments about the web design and you can expect a new revised layout shortly .Why not put your voice to good use and come along to the public meeting on the 14th january, Hartlebury Village Hall,Waresley Court Road, Hartlebury 7pm - IF YOU DARE!!!!!!!

FlipC said...

Dear Active Campaigner,

Thank you for the additional information. I ran through the information as listed in both the fact sheet and information page.

Re-checking, the fact about the height of the building came from another source and your information (45m/80m) only appears in the small box on the home page. So yep I missed that, but in fairness I expected that information to be recapped on the main information page (remember Google can link to internal pages so people might miss things).

Otherwise I can't see where the facts you mention regarding burning, new legislation etc. feature on the site.

What I did was look at what the incinerator was supposed to do and the reasons you are against it. As I said while your arguments require questions to be answered by the builders etc. Nothing as presented convinces me to stop it.

Active Campaigner said...

Dear Mad Ranter,
Thanks for the constructive criticism.We really need someone to help us with this website design as you can see we are inexperienced and need our campaign to stand out.Could you offer your services (free of course!!!!!?) I notice you live in Stourport so you are likely to be affected by this proposal too.Are you willing to get off your blog and HELP?

FlipC said...

Except the arguments you've presented haven't convinced me to grab my pitchfork and torch.

One of my weaknesses is that I don't like to see anyone stumble through ignorance, if there was a Yes to the Incinerator site I'd also be offering similar criticism to them if needed.

There's nothing overtly wrong with the website that minor tweaking wouldn't fix. As I said make sure journos can get their quick fixes to print and make sure they don't make you sound like NIMBYs as they currently are.

As an example take the Kidderminster campaign. I was against the incinerator. The site itself was suited to such a construction, but location wasn't.

Point 1: Traffic would be forced through one or both of two residential areas that weren't equipped to deal with the levels of traffic. This would affect everyone in the area.

Point 2: The argument for the placement in Kidderminster was that it was a central location for the county, yet this came at the same time that the hospital was down-graded and the Worcester hospitals improved as they were a central location for the county. A contradiction they didn't bother to correct.

Point 3: As they tried to settle the arguments the construction grew more complex. Build an extra road. Through an SSI? We'll build it on stilts. ??. The lengths that were being taken to build here suggested an ulterior motive.

That's what you need, traffic through Crown Lane isn't going to affect me or those in Kidderminster likewise eyesores and property values. Find some arguments that bring in the rest of the district.