The energy-from-waste (EfW) industry could be handed a major opportunity to sell itself to a nervous public after an influential MP called for a “much wider public debate” on incineration.
Tory MP Anne McIntosh, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) select committee, told MRW she wanted the group to look at EfW projects and could take evidence from industry chiefs.
McIntosh said she did not understand why the UK public was so “sceptical and worried” about EfW when residents in other “very ecologically and environmentally sensitive” European countries, such as Denmark, were very accepting.
She added: “There needs to be a much wider public debate and a public education exercise on energy-from-waste. I would like the committee to take a look at it and possibly take evidence but we will have to choose the right time.
“This is a personal view not a committee view but I challenged successive governments when I was a shadow minister. They should have gone out and sold energy from waste.”
The Thirsk & Malton MP, who once had a pint poured over her head by a Conservative-voting anti-incinerator protestor, said taking evidence would depend on what issues were placed on the committee’s radar by Defra.
Industry bodies said they would support an Efra evidence session as a platform to dispel myths about EfW.
Renewable Energy Association senior policy analyst, Tricia Wiley, told MRW: “We would welcome the opportunity for more engagement and to share more of the latest technology.”
EfW could be substantially higher up the department’s agenda in the second half of the year.
MRW understands the department is poised to send out further draft chapters of its EfW guide for consultation in the coming weeks and is aiming to publish the document, designed for councils and the general public, in the summer.
Early drafts of introductory chapters of the guide were slammed as “unduly negative and weak in supporting EfW” by an influential group of waste professionals.
The concerns were raised at a Renewable Energy Association (REA) meeting last month, which was attended by figures from Sita, Chinook and Imperial College London (MRW 17 February).
Efra chair cool on weekly bins fund
McIntosh called on Eric Pickles to “live by his own Localism Act” by allowing councils to decide how often bins are collected.
The Thirsk & Malton MP told MRW she was “not detecting any appetite” from residents in her constituency to move back to a weekly collection despite the community secretary’s much-trumpeted weekly collections support scheme fund.
She added: “There is nothing in my mail bag [about returning to weekly collections]. It is something that Eric is very passionate about but let the local councils decide – that is what the Localism Act is about.”
Councils wishing to apply for money from the £250m fund have to submit expressions of interest to the Department for Communities and Local Government by Friday 16 March (see page 6).