E-petition launched against proposed Radlett incinerator plan

LOCAL environmentalists want to put the county council in the hot seat by forcing it to hold a public meeting on its controversial bid to build an incinerator.

Spokesman Simon Grover said campaigners were aiming to collect 10,000 signatures after launching a county-wide petition to fight the proposed waste facility which might be built at Harper Lane in Radlett.

The action follows the council’s shortlisting of contending incinerator constructors to two bidders – one for a council-owned site at New Barnfield, South Hatfield, and the other the Harper Lane plot owned by Lafarge Aggregates and entirely within the Green Belt.

New county rules state that if a petition contains more than 10,000 signatures, approximately one per cent of Hertfordshire’s population, it will be debated by full council.

Simon, a member of St Albans District Green Party, has urged everyone concerned about this issue to go online and register their protest at the building of an incinerator.

He went on: “We want a full council debate. I think many of the councillors would welcome a full debate. I think they are very nervous about locking into a 25-year contract [for the incinerator].”

The challenge to collect thousands of signatures is backed by Batchwood district councillor Martin Leach who said: “There are better alternatives that aren’t as expensive, don’t pose the same risks to health and don’t increase CO2 emissions. Burning resources that can be reused makes no sense in today’s world.”

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The e-petition calls on council to withdraw its plan for an incinerator in mid Herts, with campaigners claiming it would cost �200 million to build and, “lock the council into a 30-year private finance initiative contract.”

But a council spokeswoman warned: “If we keep using landfill this will cost Hertfordshire’s taxpayers an extra �544 million over the next 25 years. As part of the procurement process of a new waste facility, bids are being assessed against comprehensive financial, legal and environmental criteria to make sure that Hertfordshire ends up with the best solution to deal with its household waste after recycling.”

She added: “It is worth remembering that one of the by-products from these facilities is energy – one bin bag can be transformed into enough electricity to light a 100W bulb for 24 hours.”

She also rejected campaigners’ suggestion that the authority copied other local authorities which used alternative waste solutions. The spokeswoman said: “Alternative technologies don’t always deal with all the waste and often the by-product then has to be incinerated or sent to landfill.”

A recent St Albans council document providing background for local councillors on the issue states that, “there is no public information as to why Harper Lane was chosen as the second potential energy from waste site” as landowner Lafarge and developer/operator E.ON made a private submission to county council.

But it adds that despite minimal public information on this kind of development: “A very likely overall footprint, including substantial car and lorry parking would be 2.5-5 hectares and would involve some very sizeable buildings and at least one chimney.”

A public meeting into the Harper Lane proposal was due to be held at The Radlett Centre last night and the county council wants to appoint the preferred bidder in June 2011 following evaluation of the two tenders in the New Year. Operation of the facility is expected to start in April 2015.

For more on the e-petition see www.PetitionOnline.com/NoAshHCC and to see county’s waste information visit www.hertsdirect.org/waste