A campaign group claims the public is being kept in the dark about the potential threat to health from particulate pollution from energy-from-waste (EfW) facilities.
UK Without Incineration (UKWIN) said incinerator construction should be halted until adequate pollution monitoring was operational.
Its concerns centre on minute particulate pollution emitted by incinerators, among other industrial processes.
It said resources minister Therese Coffey had told Parliament that the Environment Agency (EA) was required to set limits for PM10 and PM2.5 emissions, and that a strict monitoring system should enforce these rules.
PM refers to the average diameter of particulates in micrometres.
UKWIN said information was supposed to be made public for PM10 and PM2.5 emissions where these reached one tonne a year, but Coffey had said there was no commercially available equipment to do such continuous monitoring.
UKWIN said this meant emissions could exceed reporting thresholds without the public being told.
The group added that, in any case, there was no specific limit set for PM1-type emissions from incinerators, and these smaller particles were the most likely to pass into the bloodstream and adversely affect health.
It said the EA required incinerators to report on total particulates of all kinds only if they exceeded 10 tonnes a year, a level rarely reached.
“Operators are able to report that their emissions are ‘below reporting threshold’, so the public is told nothing about [these] emissions either,” UKWIN said.
It called on the Government to make PM10 and PM2.5 monitoring and reporting mandatory for incinerators, and to put a limit value on PM1 emissions since these were the most injurious to health.
Incinerator operators should be taxed on their emissions under the ‘polluter pays’ principle, and there should be no more incinerators built until particulate monitoring and reporting was in place, it said.
UKWIN national co-ordinator Shlomo Dowen said: “For decades, incinerators in England have been emitting significant quantities of pollution and greenhouse gases. There is a substantial cost to society associated with these harmful emissions.
“This cost should be met by incinerator operators in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Operators should also be required to be more transparent about their emissions, and to do more to monitor and control the pollution they cause.”
UKWIN also published a list which it said showed particulate pollution from individual incinerators.