logo Burngreave Messenger Issue 25 October 2002.

Monster rubbish burner given go ahead
by Andrew Green

Police ejected five vocal protestors during a five hour meeting on 23 September of Sheffield City Council’s City Centre and East Planning Board. Onyx applied to build an incinerator to burn twice as much rubbish as the current Bernard Road plant. The Board approved the plan on chair Tim Rippon’s casting vote after 5 Labour members voted for and 5 Liberals against.

Objectors repeatedly expressed deep concern over dangers posed by emissions. Because people who live near the incinerator, including Burngreave residents, are relatively poor they are more liable to suffer from increases in pollution. Planning chief Howard Baxter admitted concern over nitrogen dioxide levels, predicted to exceed safe limits in the city centre by 2005. But Health Authority expert Rosie McNaught insisted there is no evidence that emissions pose any danger to health – because no research has been done on the subject. Objectors, and some councillors, argued if there’s no evidence it’s safe, it shouldn’t be built.

When the Council privatised waste disposal, Onyx (part of Paris-based multinational Vivendi) got the contract and negotiated to replace the expensive, polluting old incinerator. Since Sheffield Council has no waste disposal policy, applicants Onyx could declare their scheme the best option for the environment, because there were no other options. Since Onyx’s application arrived 10 months ago, Sheffield councillors and officers have done nothing to develop a waste disposal policy or explore alternatives. So when decision time came, half the committee said their only option was to follow their officers’ recommendations and approve the application.

In fact objectors had presented alternatives for waste disposal by re-use and recycling. RABID (Residents Against Bernard Road Incinerator Dust) presented a comprehensive, fully costed alternative plan. Greenpeace offered to finance a study of alternative waste options for the city. Many saw investment in building the plant as a commitment to waste disposal by incineration for the next 30 years, which would pre-empt development of recycling schemes.

Protest groups including Sheffield Against Incineration, RABID, Sheffield Friends of the Earth, Sheffield Green Party and Greenpeace are asking why Sheffield Council has let its waste disposal policy be dictated by a multinational company rather than elected representatives. Shocked by the outcome, they vowed they would find ways to overturn the decision.

Contact Impact, St Mary’s Church, Bramall Lane S2,
tel. 223 0225


The proposed "Monster Rubish Burner".