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Waste to energy scheme criticised as unsustainable

Opponents of a 16MW energy from waste scheme proposed for Cornwall last week told a public inquiry that the scheme is unsustainable.

The energy from waste scheme is a core part of Cornwall Council’s £427M waste management PFI that it awarded to French environmental giant Sita in 2006. The facility is intended to handle 90% of all Cornwall’s waste.

However, the now unitary council’s own planning department rejected Sita’s planning application for the incinerator near St Dennis in March last year.

Sita appealed against the ruling and a nine week planning inquiry into the scheme is now underway.

Visual impact, noise, the effects on public footpaths, inadequate consideration of alternatives, harm to regeneration and an overdependence on transportation of waste by road, were all cited as reasons for rejecting the application.

Past ICE president Jean Venables last week spoke at the inquiry on behalf of environmental consultant Power of Cornwall. She told NCE that one central facility was unsustainable for a long, thin, sparsely populated county such as Cornwall.

Carbon footprint

“A proposal taking waste from roadside collection to a very large facility would overpower the community, with increased lorry miles increasing the carbon footprint,” she said.

She added that a more decentralised system encouraging recycling would be more appropriate. She said a number of localised anaerobic digestion schemes would be a better solution.

Former ICE environment and sustainability board chairman Mark Broadhurst also gave evidence for Power of Cornwallagainst the incinerator last week. He prefers building 10, 3MW digestion plants at points around the county. “Sita plans a monstrous bonfire in the middle of the county,” he said.

Sita said it could not comment on the proposals. The council has commissioned consultant Fichtner to examine options.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Burning fat releases energy. That is a fact. So why not install treadmill driven electricity generators in all the health clubs across the UK. I have done a quick calculation and estimate that at least 5% of the UK's energy needs could be met by this method. Recycling sounds great but if it uses more energy and resources than it saves what is the point? Who runs to their recycling centre? Who runs to their health club?

    P.S I do walk to my Local and stagger back so at least I am doing my bit

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