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Buckingham Liberal Democrats

Decision by Bucks CC to choose Energy from Waste (EFW) facility in Bedfordshire "inappropriate and premature".

September 20, 2009 9:56 PM

Lib Dem's county group's position statement on the EFW announcement by BCC. .

The decision by Bucks CC to choose Covanta as preferred bidder to provide an Energy from Waste (EFW) facility in Bedfordshire, seems inappropriate and premature.

Since the decision to seek a provider was taken, not only have the financial circumstances altered, but the potential to reduce waste and

increase recycling has not been addressed at all.

Extended consultation in 2006 showed EFW was only the third preferred option for the public after waste reduction and recycling

The American-owned company proposes to build and operate the facility at Rookery South Pit near Stewartby. The only positive aspect of the decision to go for a facility in Bedfordshire is that it can be shared, although everything else about it flies in the face of Bucks' own policies.

Under the plans, 210,000 tonnes-a-year of the county's residual household waste would now have to be transported out of Buckinghamshire, increasing HGV journeys on rural roads, with associated pollution and deterioration of the network, to be burnt in the incinerator.

Most importantly, it will reduce the amenity of rural residents, particularly in the Leighton Buzzard, Wing and Ivinghoe areas, through which these vehicles may need to pass, despite assurances they will be required to keep to the main roads.

As Bedfordshire will be the planning authority it will be unable to put any restrictions on the use of Buckinghamshire's roads by vehicles bringing waste to the site. The only way to restrict vehicles to appropriate roads will be by placing conditions in the contract, which begs the question of how this will be enforced.

To make a facility of this size commercially viable - the facility will have an initial capacity of 390,000 tonnes of waste a year but the company proposes to treat 585,000 tonnes a year there - far more waste than is currently taken to landfill would have to be incinerated. The fear is that unless the County commits to a contract smaller than that anticipated, to make the contract viable all waste currently recycled in Bucks may need to be burnt.

The size of the plant undermines all Bucks efforts over the past 15 years to reduce and recycle household waste. If the same money was invested in recycling and reducing waste the County would be able to reduce CO2 emissions far in excess of current targets and beyond, improving the quality of life locally and helping the global picture.

Bucks CC has not yet demonstrated satisfactorily that it has a joined up policy to meet the expectations of the public by increasing recycling to the levels of Scandinavia and continental Europe, which are in excess of 80%, where energy from waste plants are a frequent last resort, but operate on a small and local basis.

The council expects to finalise the contract with Covanta by spring 2010. A planning application is to be submitted to the Department of Energy and Climate Change in October or November this year. If built, the facility would be operating by