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Lifting of Runcorn traffic restrictions angers campaigners

Air quality campaigners claim lifting of traffic restrictions at energy from waste plant will worsen air quality

Air quality campaigners have criticised Halton borough council’s decision to lift restrictions on the amount of traffic entering the site of an energy-from-waste (EfW) incinerator in Runcorn, Cheshire, claiming that increased traffic to the facility will add to air pollution in the area.

A planning condition had previously restricted deliveries of waste into the site to fuel waste management company Viridor’s incinerator to 85,000 tonnes each year.

Traffic restrictions have been lifted at Viridor's energy-from-waste plant in Runcorn

Traffic restrictions have been lifted at Viridor’s energy-from-waste plant in Runcorn

However, this has now been overturned, allowing heavy goods vehicle (HGV) deliveries into the site of up to 480,000 tonnes per year, as stated in the original planning application. Overall, the EfW plant has a capacity of 850,000 tonnes per year.

The decision to overturn the restriction followed an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate by consortium partner and chemical producer INEOS ChlorVinyls and a four-day public inquiry in Runcorn in January.

However, Jeff Meehan, chairman of campaign group Halton Action Group Against the Incinerator, said he was “very disappointedâ€? by the decision.

He commented: “It’s not the fact Viridor will be incinerating waste, or the number of lorries on the roads, it’s the fact they said they were going to use sustainable transport and they clearly haven’t done that.â€?

And, according to Trafford campaigners Breathe Clean Air Group (BCAG), the waste supplying the plant will not just be supplied from within Chesire, but from further afield ‘including overseas waste’, which will add to traffic emissions.

BCAG chairman, Pete Kilvert, said: “I feel sorry for the people of Runcorn who will suffer from air pollution and the constant fumes from HGV thundering through their town to feed this monster. Also the people of Trafford, Salford and Manchester will be in the fall-out zone as emissions from this huge plant will be carried by the prevailing wind along the Mersey and Ship Canal Corridor.

The Breathe Clean Air Group has also been campaigning against Peel Energy’s proposed £70 million wood-burning biomass plant in Barton, for which planning permission was upheld by a High Court judge last month (see airqualitynews.com story).

Mr Klivert added: “It is scandalous that the government allows these plants to pollute the air we breathe, at a time when the European Commission is prosecuting the UK for breaches of Safety regulations concerning air pollution.â€?

Viridor

Viridor, however, welcomed the ‘common-sense’ decision and said that resulting traffic increases would be minimal.

Director of external affairs at Viridor, Dan Cooke, said: “Viridor remains committed to maximising the amount of fuel that can be transported by rail to Runcorn. We appreciate local concern about traffic levels and would therefore point out that the result of this application equates to just a 0.2% increase of current local traffic movements. We will of course also enforce local routing agreements.â€?

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Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan
7 years ago

I’m sure that Viridor will be surprised to learn that the UK government was aware around a century ago that air pollution was a major driving factor in infant mortality – thanks to the work of Dr William Brend who’d examined infant death rates across the whole of the British Isles.

Why then did the medical profession lose its way?

“Newman’s insistence on maternal ignorance as the major cause of infant death in early twentieth-century Britain was coming increasingly under attack by the time of World War I. One of the most obvious limitations of the thesis was its failure to explain the marked and persistent variations in infant mortality rates. Dr Brend, for instance, writing for the Medical Research Committee in 1916, objected:

‘We cannot assume that the Connaught peasantry – many of whom can neither read nor write – are so much better instructed in the care of infants that in spite of poverty and hard conditions infant mortality among them is half that among the mothers of Kensington, and one third that of Bradford, where so much has been done to instruct mothers by means of health visitors and schools for mothers. . . . If instead of areas socialclasses be examined, it will be found that the wives of woodsmen and foresters must he credited with as great a knowledge of the conditions governing infant welfare as that possessed by the professional groups, and it must be believed that the wives of agricultural labourers and shepherds excel in this respect all other classes of manual workers.’ (62)

Many doctors argued that comparisons between infant mortality figures in towns distinguished by energetic schemes of welfare education and health visiting, like Bradford or Huddersfield, and those from other towns without such provision revealed remarkably similar trends and fluctuations. (63) Newman’s work was criticized by contemporaries in the first place for underestimating the significant environmental factors – poverty, inadequate housing and sanitation, atmospheric pollution conducive to respiratory disease (an important cause of infant deaths) and secondly for paying too little attention to epidemiological factors……”

(“WORKING-CLASS MOTHERS AND INFANT MORTALITY IN ENGLAND, 1895-1914”, pages 90 & 91)

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[…] Europe was built on a lie that they would bring in the majority of waste by rail. This article on Air Quality News gives the detail we all knew was coming; the original ruling has now been overturned to allow […]