Map launched of all planned UK incinerators

22 July 2008

A map detailing the locations of all existing and proposed incineration plants in the UK has been published by an incinerator opposition group in a bid to challenge government spending on the technology.

The UK WIN map shows where waste incinerators currently exist or are planned in the UKThe UK Without Incineration Network (UK WIN), in collaboration with Friends of the Earth, has revealed over a hundred current and planned locations for energy-from-waste plants in the UK.

The move comes as Channel 4 News also published its own list of at least 30 locations across the UK where local authorities are "planning or seriously considering" new energy from waste facilities - including Runcorn in Cheshire, Newhaven in East Sussex and Belvedere in South East London.

UK WIN is hoping to use the findings to put pressure on the government over its investment into waste incineration facilities.

The Government has geared £2 billion in Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits to pay towards new waste management facilities, and the campaign group claims that many councils plan to use this money to build new incinerators, which burn waste, which is a valuable resource.

However, speaking to today, a Defra spokeswoman insisted that the development of incineration facilities should not undermine recycling and composting efforts - and claimed councils should decide what is best for their areas.

And, the Chartered Institutions of Wastes Management said that the potential to derive energy from residual waste should not be ignored, and condemned the map as "inaccurate and alarmist".


UK WIN launched the map as an attempt to show that the government is not focusing on recycling resources and instead favours incineration of some recyclable waste.

The campaign group pointed to the announcement in February that the Waste and Resources Action Programme would have its budget cut by 30% as exemplifying the government's lack of consideration for recycling (see story).

In March, a meeting of the Waste Stakeholder Group saw members accuse Defra of favouring incineration with its PFI scheme by not creating sufficient incentives for companies to build recycling plants (see story).

Michael Warhurst, senior resource use campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "Incineration is a big problem for climate change, not a solution - and will send valuable recyclable resources up in smoke by burning valuable resources that should be recycled.

"The government should abandon this wasteful and old-fashioned technology by stopping all incinerator funding and instead investing in real green alternatives," he added.

Shlomo Dowen, co-ordinator of UK Without Incineration Network, said: "We look forward to removing these sites from the map as we move towards realising our vision of a United Kingdom without incineration."

Supporting the publication of the map, Rob Whittle, of the Norfolk Against Incineration and Landfill (NAIL2) Committee, said: "If the UK wants better clean, green technologies to come through like flexible combinations of recycling, anaerobic digestion, MBT, MHT and Gasplasma; biased investment from the likes of the European Investment Board and PFI schemes to Oxfordshire, Suffolk and Cheshire has to stop."


Speaking in response to the publication of the map, Defra was keen to assert that it did indeed take recycling factors into consideration where applicable and that the adoption of incineration need not damage recycling rates and targets.

A Defra spokeswoman said: "Our priority is reducing waste created, then where possible re-using, before recycling and composting. Landfill remains the least environmentally sound option for many types of waste. Energy from waste need not reduce recycling and composting rates. In fact recent research from the German federal environment agency suggests that a higher rate of incineration goes hand in hand with higher recycling and composting rates.

"Local authorities must determine which waste management solutions will best suit their communities, based on local needs," she added.


CIWM also insisted that energy from waste had a "real contribution" to make to reducing landfill and called for wider exploitation of the energy value of residual waste after recycling had taken place.

Chief executive Steve Lee said: "There is plenty of evidence from mainland Europe that high recycling rates can sit side by side with higher recycling rates of EfW than we currently have here in the UK.

"It is also time to explode the myths that EfW means the mass incineration of waste purely for disposal purposes. It encompasses a whole range of clean and safe technologies operating at every scale; from Combined Heat and Power facilities that can provide heat for local factories, offices and homes as well as power to the grid, through to the smaller scale anaerobic digestion plants that can turn our food waste into biogas," he added.


The map, which was unveiled today (July 22), documents 23 existing sites and outlines 150 locations that have been scouted for around 80 more facilities to be built and includes a table listing every facility with its location, type, capacity, operational notes and active campaign groups opposing that particular site.

Large urban areas are identified as the areas with most incineration facilities - Birmingham, London, Liverpool and Leeds all accumulating high numbers - while smaller areas such as Invergordon, Inverness, and Jersey's proposed St. Helier facility expose the range of the research undertaken.

UK WIN explains that it placed each location on the map based on facility post codes for accuracy.

The map also explains the reasons behind UK WIN's opposition to the use of incinerators, which is due to the perceived depression of recycling rates, increase in greenhouse gases, erection of plants despite opposition, toxic emissions, health risks and that it "relies on exaggerating future quantities of waste instead of strongly increased recycling and composting".


Under the map, UK WIN explains how the focus of facilities is on household waste incinerators and the broad definition of what constitutes a 'potential site', which ranges from sites where formal planning has been granted but the facility is not operational to sites earmarked for waste management facilities without incineration being ruled out.

The organisation also says in a very small number of instances, it has included sites that have been "withdrawn" but are of ongoing concern to local activists.