rubbish burner given go ahead
by Andrew Green
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
Contact Impact, St Mary’s Church, Bramall Lane S2,
tel. 223 0225