Harpenden-Luton Incinerator: Developer hits back against Herts campaign group

A sign for the Stop Harpenden-Luton Incinerator group.

A sign for the Stop Harpenden-Luton Incinerator group. - Credit: XWLCmd7Och6WRkSIQrARrLD7/ShKJmUtxbmv5/r65BYHw51sVQDnlFikNI7BNntnctnOxB1bJopsuxXA9QIwjg==

The developer of the Harpenden-Luton incinerator has hit back against Herts residents trying to stop it from going ahead.

Energy company Emsrayne has applied to build the Lea Bank Energy Park (LBEP) at New Mill End, near to both Harpenden and Kimpton.

The application is being opposed by residents of the two settlements, who have formed the Stop Harpenden-Luton Incinerator group (SHLI), on the grounds of potential noise pollution, traffic congestion and impact upon Green Belt land.

Emsrayne’s director Andy Brewer said: “It is disappointing to see the amount of misinformation surrounding the Lea Bank Energy Park and the opportunities it offers for renewable energy production.

“The prevalence of these ‘facts’ is causing people to form their opinion based on information which is untrue and misleading. We’re keen to ensure the public have access to the correct information regarding the proposal for Lea Bank Energy Park as well as the combined heat and power process in general.”

The incinerator is intended to burn up to 500,000 tonnes of refuse derived fuel (domestic and commercial waste) and similar residual waste (which is left over after the recycling process) to produce up to 49.99 mega-watts of electricity and up to 50 mega-watts of heat.

SHLI’s website claims the incinerator will burn “500,000 tonnes of unsorted stinking black bag refuse each year”, but Emsrayne say the waste will be brought onto the site in sealed vehicles, emptied into an enclosed hall and kept under negative pressure to control odours.

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The company has also fought back against suggestions the incinerator will be as big as Harpenden High Street, saying the High Street (as measured between Sun Lane and Station Road) is around 450m long, while the incinerator is 214m long.

Emsrayne has also said the campaign’s name is incorrect, claiming the incinerator is not in Harpenden nor Luton, nor is it an incinerator.

Instead, the company says, the facility is a combined heat and power facility as the output from the burning process is usable.

The vice-chair of SHLI, Nick Martin, said: “In response to the comments by Andy Brewer, we believe the facts on our website are correct and the vast majority have been unchallenged by him.

“Emsrayne as a company currently operate two small solar farms and have no experience of running or developing anything like this proposal.

“We look forward to Emsrayne providing accurate and detailed proposals that can be robustly and fairly interrogated before many millions of pounds are invested in this scheme with no clear public benefactors or benefits and many significant concerns.”

The campaign argued its decision to name the LBEP the Harpenden-Luton incinerator was valid as it lies between the those two towns.

It also claimed Environment Agency figures show the incinerator would be the sixth largest facility in the UK in terms of capacity, of those either completed or under construction.

It would fall behind an Edmonton facility, which has a capacity of 511,000, a Billingham facility with 563,000, a Ferrybridge facility with 631,000, a Belvedere facility with 746,000 and a Runcorn facility, which has a capacity of around 850,000.

In response to Mr Brewer’s comment about the “opportunities [the facility] offers for renewable energy production”, SHLI has pointed to a 2001 report from the House of Commons environment select committee on sustainable waste management.

The report reads: “We do not accept energy from waste incineration is a renewable form of energy. Even if one considers it meets the technical definition of renewable energy, it utterly fails to meet what might be called a ‘common-sense’ interpretation.

“A waste stream is only ‘sustainable’ in the most twisted definition of the word since sustainable waste management has as its cornerstone the minimisation of waste, and the explicit maintenance of waste streams for the purposes of incineration is in complete contradiction of this principle.

“By classifying energy from waste as renewable energy, a signal is sent to the public and business that it is acceptable to continue producing waste because ‘renewable energy’ is generated from it.”

The Herts Advertiser will continue to refer to the Lea Bank Energy Park as the Harpenden-Luton incinerator for ease of understanding.