18 April 2021
Eco Sustainable Solutions Ltd have submitted a planning application to BCP Council for an “Energy Recovery Facility” to be located at Chapel Lane, Hurn, Christchurch.
Alasdair Keddie, Co-Chair of Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole (BCP) Green Party, said: "Despite the glossy 'carbon friendly' PR, the Hurn Energy Recovery Facility is an incinerator project. The word 'incinerator' is scrupulously avoided throughout the planning application and supporting information from Eco Sustainable Solutions Ltd.
"Energy recovery from incinerating waste is not low carbon or climate friendly. It is essentially generating energy from dirty fossil fuel (plastic waste)."
Public consultation by BCP Council on the planning application has been extended and is now open until Thursday 11th May, giving all local residents the opportunity to object to the proposal.
Alasdair Keddie has prepared a briefing on why he believes the community should come together to actively oppose the Hurn incinerator.
Many councils are signed up to long-term waste contracts that ensure the council takes on the primary risk of the incinerator not getting enough waste to burn, meaning councils are in effect penalised for not sending enough waste for incineration. Contractual mechanisms such as ‘minimum tonnage guarantees’, ‘put-or-pay’ clauses and ‘banding mechanisms’ undermine the economic incentive to reduce, re-use and recycle even where funds are available.
There is a correlation between high rates of incineration and low rates of recycling (Source, Source, Source, Source). Many councils have told the Government that their low recycling rates are due to their incineration-based waste contracts that undermine their incentive or ability to invest in improvements to their recycling service (Source, Source).
Incineration releases significantly more CO2 for every kWh exported to the electricity grid than the conventional use of fossil fuels, with the incineration of plastics being worse than coal (Source, Source)
Even when methane generation from the landfill of biogenic material is taken into account, over its lifetime a typical waste incinerator built in 2020 is estimated to release the equivalent of around 1.6 million tonnes of CO₂ more than sending the same waste to landfill. (Source). When electricity generation is taken into account, each tonne of plastic burned at that incinerator would result in the release of around 1.43 tonnes of fossil CO₂ (Source).
Around half of the biogenic material sent to landfill does not rot down and therefore does not exacerbate climate change, whereas were the same waste to otherwise be incinerated then all of the biogenic carbon in the waste would converted into CO₂ and released into the atmosphere (Source, Source, Source).
One of the central pillars of a circular economy is feeding materials back into the economy and avoiding waste being sent to landfill or incinerated, thereby capturing the value of the materials as far as possible and reducing losses.
The ‘linear economy’ relies on extraction and processing, followed by consumption and disposal (via incineration or landfill). Extraction and disposal deplete finite resources and cause environmental and social harm. With a circular economy the value of resources is preserved, material and nutrients that are needed to create new products are maintained, and the most is made of existing resources. (Source)
The UK currently has more incineration capacity existing and under construction than genuinely residual waste to burn, and there are many more incinerator projects in the pipeline.
Incineration overcapacity harms the markets for recycling and reduces the marginal benefits of waste minimisation and re-use schemes, causing significant environmental harm. Locking our valuable materials into incineration creates a serious long-term risk to UK resource security and is a huge waste of money.
In addition to greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change, incinerators emit many toxins and pollutants that harm local air quality. Emissions include dioxins, NOx and ultrafine particulate matter that can be harmful to both human health and the natural environment. There is not enough monitoring, not enough enforcement, and not enough transparency.
There is no safe level for particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5), while NO2 is associated with adverse health effects at concentrations at and below the legal limits.