Despite several positive environmental pledges in its manifesto, the new coalition government needs to be clearer about its policy on the future of incineration, according to a national anti-incineration group.
The UK Without Incineration Network (UK WIN) is concerned about which government department will take charge of energy from waste facilities under the new coalition arrangement given the seemingly opposing views of the two different secretaries of state.
Chris Huhne, newly appointed Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, is not a supporter of incineration while Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has commented on the benefits of energy from waste facilities on her website.
Spelman said: “At a time when energy costs are rising so dramatically and international security of supply is such an issue, the knowledge that what we throw away is actually generating electricity and revenue for the tax payer of Solihull Borough is a really good news story.”
UK WIN national coordinator Shlomo Dowen said: “We will wait anxiously to see whether the responsibility for energy from waste facilities will rest with DEFRA or DECC.”
As reported in MRW, one of the most significant pledges made by the coalition is to promote to promote energy-from-waste using anaerobic digestion (AD) technology, which is obviously welcome news to those opposed to incineration.
Dowen explained: “We welcome the addition of anaerobic digestion as the superior form of energy from waste but we need to know whether the government is proposing to use this AD technology to replace energy from waste generated through incineration or just to complement it.
“If it is a policy of using both AD and incineration then I suspect there may be a problem with feedstock as the same type of residual waste is needed to feed both AD plants and incinerators.”
Whether further current or future planning applications for energy from waste incinerators will go through under the new coalition is also unclear. Prior to the election the Conservative Party made a statement saying they were not going to impose incinerators on communities that didn’t want them but it remains to be seen whether this will become policy.
There are currently more than 80 proposed energy from waste incinerators in the UK.