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Blackwater Valley Environmental Justice

Briefing 10 October 2000


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Slyfield Waste Incinerator

The Slyfield Waste Incinerator is one of three incinerators earmarked for Surrey. Surrey County Council has a contract for waste disposal with French Company SITA, which includes incineration of waste. SITA wish to build two incinerators at Redhill and Capel. Thames Waste Management (owned by Thames Water) wish to build a waste incinerator at Slyfield on the edge of Guildford.

An operation licence is required from the Environment Agency (environment and health). Surrey are the planning authority. Waste disposal and minerals are handled at the County level because they have regional implications.

Planning consultation has only taken place with people living within 600 metres of the plant. Visually intrusive (larger in size than the Palace of Westminster) the incinerator will be seen from a much wider area, the pollution will be spewed over a much wider area.

Two Open Public Meetings have taken place. These were very well attended with several hundred people at each, all anti the incinerator. On the platform were the Environment Agency, Surrey Planning Department and Thames Waste Management. No one was on the platform who could give a different view.

Surrey already seems to have accepted incineration as a foregone conclusion as it forms part of their waste management strategy, although a Waste Local Plan has yet to be agreed. All that appears open is the siting of incinerators and whether a couple of large ones or more smaller ones. Recycling is not being taken seriously, waste minimisation and resource conservation is not even on the agenda.

The Environment Agency are playing down the risks from dioxins, pointing out that dioxins from the plant will be less than local traffic.

The plant will consume 225,000 tonnes/year, taking in waste from Guildford and the surrounding area. This will generate heavy traffic flows, both into the plant with waste, and back out with highly toxic fly ash. The plant will generate 20 MW of electricity, with possibility of district heating in the future. Sewage may be consumed in the future.

The arguments put forward by TWM regarding energy recovery are simplistic and assumes a linear one way process. With such a process materials have to be fed in at the other end which requires far more energy than that recovered. If on the other hand the materials are recycled and used again, far less energy is used overall.

Guildford recycles a miserly 7% of its waste. This is far below government and EU targets. Surrey produces 400,000 tonnes of waste a year, it is growing at 3% per annum.

The incinerator is close to green belt land. It is on a flood plain and in danger from freak floods. Whitmoor Common SSSI is in the deposit zone for pollutants.

The health risk has ben calculated assuming a healthy adult of average weight (70 kg, 11 stones). The weak, the old, the young, the frail, asthmatic suffers are all at greater risk. Nor do the health risks take into account the stress and psychological damage of living near to an incinerator.

The most toxic emissions are sub-micron particles. These are not filtered out. Although mass reduction takes place, the mass does not magically disappear nor get converted to energy. It goes up the chimney, dioxins, heavy metals. CO2 and NOx emissions are greenhouse gases. The atmosphere has been substituted for landfill. The contaminated fly ash goes to landfill. The more efficient the filters, the more toxic the residual fly ash.

Thames Water are the TWM parent company. Thames Water are the worst polluter in the UK.

Incinerators are a tax-subsidised gravy train. The UK is the only industrialised country contemplating an expansion of incinerators.

With landfill no longer an option we have to look more seriously at recycling. We have to look more seriously at the problem of waste generation at source.

Kerbside separation and collection can easily achieve 80% recycling. Communities across the world are achieving recycling rates of 50-80%. What limits recycling is not the will of local people to participate, it is the failure of corrupt councils to implement viable recycling schemes. A community in Essex has been able to achieve over 90% public participation with no complaint of contamination from buyers.

In Yorkshire a community recycling project takes in a variety of plastic at one end, cuts and chops, processes, and out the other end comes extruded plastic board of about the density of hardwood suitable for a variety of uses. They are currently experimenting with a mix of plastic and rubber that has potential as a surface for canal paths and cycle tracks. The same group has many other recycling projects, one of which is chopping up and composting cardboard boxes, any boxes still fit for use are sold to a furniture removal company. Worms from the composting are sold to anglers and currently being used as input for a community fish breeding project.

In Devon a community project composts household waste. The compost is sold and used on a community small holding. The food grown is sold in a community shop and cafe. This reduces imports, fair traded goods are also sold. The cafe runs courses on vegetable growing, composting, use of recycled materials. The Devon project is one of more than 20 such schemes in Devon.

In a natural Gaian system, the output from one system is the input for the next, resources are used efficiently. The concept of waste and waste disposal does not exist.

The deadlines for objections to the TWM Slyfield Incinerator are 13 October 2000 for Surrey County Council (late objections will be considered up to the planning meeting), end of October 2000 for Environment Agency.

	Slyfield Incinerator		Roger Hargreaves
	Environment Agency		Head of Planning
	PO Box 143			Environment Department
	Camberley			Surrey County Council
	Surrey  GU16 5WA		County Hall, Penrhyn Road
					Kingston Upon Thames
					Surrey  KT1 2DY

Note: Surrey CC deadline has been extended to 22 December 2000.

Plans are available for viewing in Guildford BC, Woking BC and Guildford Library. A non-technical summary is available from Surrey CC, and is also on the web.

A Guildford councillor recently accused protesters of criminal irresponsible behaviour for covering the town in posters declaring a 10 mile cancer zone around the proposed incinerator. The criminals are the developers and the councillors in their pockets.

House prices in Guildford are starting to fall through the floor. No one wishes to reside in a cancer zone, overlooking an incinerator.

Opposition is being coordinated by the Guildford Anti-Incinerator Network. They have produced briefing material including a model letter of objection. The local FoE and Burpham Residents Association are actively opposing the Slyfield Incinerator. Opposition to the other two Surrey incinerators is being led by the recently resurrected Mole Valley FoE.

Grundon Waste has offered to take waste from Surrey (up to 150,000 tonnes/annum) to fuel its 400,000 tonne/annum incinerator (Colnbrook, near Slough). The Colnbrook incinerator has planning consent and is expected to be operational by 2004. Tempting as the Grundon offer may appear it should be refused. Waste has to be disposed of and managed at source, only then will consumers be forced to act, waste should not be trucked across the country generating additional problems. The Grundon plant highlights an additional problem, that of generating additional waste to keep the large incinerators burning (they are not otherwise profitable), which runs counter to recycling and waste minimisation efforts. The Grundon offer also highlights the fact that the Slyfield incinerator is speculative, it has no contract for waste disposal. If we end up with spare incineration capacity it is going to destroy any recycling and minimisation projects. [see BVEJ newsletter #0002 July 2000 for discussion of effects of minimum waste contracts to fuel incinerators]

BVEJ Briefing, an expanded version of the article 'Slyfield Waste Incinerator', BVEJ newsletter #0005 October 2000.


Briefing index
BVEJ Briefing 10 October 2000
Published by Blackwater Valley Environmental Justice
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