Hartlepool council chiefs urged to scrap incinerator plan

Hartlepool council chiefs have been urged to drop £2billion plans for a “monster” incinerator that will burn waste from across the region for decades to come.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 4:57 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 5:03 pm
The South Tees Development Corporation area, where the Tees Valley Energy Recovery Facility will be built.

A potential 40-year project to burn rubbish from Hartlepool, Stockton, County Durham, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Newcastle at a giant facility in Redcar was announced in 2020.

The scheme, which will see 450,000 tonnes of waste a year being sent to the incinerator, has left environmental activists aghast.

A Stop Incineration in the North East (SINE) campaign has been launched to oppose the building of the plant, which for some has brought back troubling memories of the Byker ash scandal in Newcastle – in which the city council was prosecuted after 2,000 tonnes of ash from the old Byker incinerator was found to contain potentially cancer-causing dioxins.

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Almost 600 people have backed an online petition calling on the seven councils to cancel the “climate-killing” build, which it claims will emit “vast quantities of carbon dioxide” and other dangerous pollutants.

The councils accused the petition of making “a number of inaccurate claims” and insisted that the site will offer “a safe, efficient and sustainable solution for treating the general rubbish left over after recycling in the North East”.

The petition states: “Just when we are all doing our best to cut greenhouse gases and air pollution, our councils are planning to truck hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste from all over the North East and burn it in a new monster incinerator.

It added: “We call on the council leaders to put our health and planet first and produce a regional waste strategy designed around the need to transition to a circular economy.”

SINE member Frances Hinton said that the plans were “appalling”.

The campaigner, who worked on the BAN Waste group set up in Newcastle in the wake of the Byker saga of the early 2000s, added: “It is a juggernaut. Once you have something as big as that, each council will wring its hands and say that it is not just us and pass the buck.

“It is absolutely not consistent with the climate emergency. Four of these seven local authorities have themselves declared a climate emergency, as well as it being declared in the government itself. This is just not consistent.”

The project will cost an initial £300million, with an overall contract value of £2.1billion over an initial 29 years – which could be extended by a further 11.

A spokesperson for the Tees Valley Energy Recovery Facility (TVERF) project said: “We are aware of an online petition that unfortunately makes a number of inaccurate claims regarding our efforts to provide a safe, efficient and sustainable solution for treating the general rubbish left over after recycling in the North East.

“Our project seeks to use proven, reliable technology to provide a cost-effective and affordable solution for the ongoing treatment of waste that is not reused or recycled.

“Facilities such as this are approved by Public Health England, closely regulated by the Environment Agency, and will play a role in delivering a net-zero carbon economy by removing waste from landfill.

“Of course helping households to recycle as much as possible remains a priority for all of the councils involved.

“The TVERF is in no way an impediment to that and we anticipate that recycling rates will continue to improve as we all work towards a cleaner, greener future.”

This week, a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation found that 11% of the rubbish we put out to be recycled is in fact incinerated and that the total carbon emissions from incineration have now overtaken those from coal.

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