An influential MP has criticised Cornwall Council for “continuing to peddle the doomsday myth that incineration is the only answer to avoid multi-million pound fines”, and called on communities secretary Eric Pickles to reject the appeal for an energy-from-waste (EfW) facility at St Dennis, near St Austell.
St Austell and Newquay Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert, who sat on the committee that scrutinised the Localism Bill, told the House of Commons that the plan for a 240,000-tonne EfW plant was “the wrong solution for Cornwall’s waste”.
He said: “Time after time, when the people of Cornwall have been asked for their views, they have rejected the option of incineration. The community came together across the political divide to oppose the application.
“Despite that, the applicant, Sita, has appealed those decisions and senior officers of Cornwall Council continue to peddle the doomsday myth to the people of Cornwall that incineration is the only answer to avoid multi-million pound fines. It is not and the council is wrong.”
Planning permission was initially refused by the former Cornwall County Council for the facility and an appeal was subsequently launched by Sita. This has led to a public enquiry and the requirement that a decision be made by Pickles over whether to uphold the appeal.
Gilbert, who previously called for a ’community right of appeal’ clause to be inserted into the Localism Bill to give residents greater say in opposing controversial waste infrastructure, implored Pickles to reject the application.
He said: “I hope that as testament to his commitment to localism, Pickles will back the united view of the local community and put the plans for the incinerator where they belong – in the recycling.”
Shlomo Dowen, network co-ordinator of anti-incineration group UKWIN, welcomed the comments. He said: “Gilbert and Weaver Vale MP Graham Evans are two of a growing number of MPs who are publicly speaking out on behalf of their constituents against waste incineration. We know of many MPs who share our concerns, and it is a sign of the times that these concerns are receiving greater coverage in the media and increasingly in government.
“UKWIN members hope this results in greater efforts to promote waste reduction, re-use and recycling, including bringing about an end to unfair public subsidies for incineration.”
Cornwall Council cabinet member for waste management Julian German told MRW: “Cornwall recognises we need to move away from landfill, and incineration is one of the options which will allow us to do that.”
He said the council was being “proactive in other ways” by considering new collection contracts following the designation of the council as a unitary council. The revised contracts could include the possibility of weekly residual waste collections.