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.
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, 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€?