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Benyon defends Government incineration policy over growing Radlett incinerator opposition

Defra minister Richard Benyon has stated that incineration policy will be part of plans to be the “greenest Government ever,” after growing opposition to an incinerator in Hertfordshire reached the House of Commons.

Benyon, who is Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at Defra, commented that incineration technology carried a number of “valid concerns” which the waste review has sought to address.

He said: “Following the logic of the waste hierarchy, it is reasonable to ask whether, if we are burning waste, we need not recycle it. Worse, might we be providing incentives specifically not to reduce, reuse or recycle before recovering energy from waste?”

Despite the concerns, Benyon added that incineration would still have a place in Government policy, he said: “We are confident that incinerators do not pose a threat to public health, [which is] why our policy on incinerators is part of, rather than in opposition to, our being the greenest Government ever.”

The comments came in an adjournment debate tabled by Hertsmere MP James Clappison, who voiced concern over aspects of Hertfordshire County Council’s procurement programme for a possible energy from waste facility on Harper Lane, Radlett, if a bid by E.ON Energy from Waste AG is successful.

Clappison commented that the process of selecting the Harpers Lane site was “somewhat odd, if not bizarre” after the site “emerged, out of the blue, as one of two shortlisted sites last July. In June of this year, if not before, the county council is set to announce its preferred bidder and site.”

Although Benyon was unable to comment on the application, he added that in the context of the location and access to the site he was “of a similar mind”.

UK Without Incineration Network coordinator Shlomo Dowen, who recently held a workshop to coordinate the efforts of four separate campaign groups in the region, told MRW: “One of the things we did at the workshop was take a very close look at the information available through the outline business case, and we saw that actually, an incinerator can no longer be justified in the county on the basis of economics, and on the numbers of tonnes of waste.”

According to Hertfordshire county council figures, the facility will be required to deal with up to 345,000 tonnes of domestic waste. However, a definitive figure cannot be provided until the procurement process is complete.

Hertfordshire county council executive member for waste Derrick Ashley said: “We appreciate the concern felt by residents in the two areas that the bidders have identified for an energy from waste facility - Harper Lane in Radlett or New Barnfield in Hatfield. Wherever this facility is built, the application will go through a rigorous planning process and public consultation.”

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