Hertsmere Council raises fears about the effect of incinerator on water supplies

A CONTROVERSIAL county incinerator proposed for Radlett poses a “potential health risk” to people as it would be too close to residential water supplies, a council has warned.

Hertsmere Borough Council has added its voice to the chorus of disapproval over the domestic waste burner, which may be built at either Harper Lane, Radlett, or New Barnfield, South Hatfield.

In a report to Hertfordshire County Council, which is still choosing where to build the facility, Hertsmere warned of its concerns that should construction go ahead in Radlett, it would be located on a principle aquifer within a “source protection zone.”

It added: “The Environmental Agency would object to proposals such as this due to inherent risk associated with such facilities close to water supplies intended for human consumption.

“Hertsmere Borough Council do not consider that this site is suitable for such development due to the potential human health risk to the groundwater from the development.”

Although the site is in the jurisdiction of St Albans District Council, the impact of the development primarily affects residents of neighbouring Hertsmere.

In a letter to the county council, Hertsmere borough’s environmental health department said it had “deep concerns” about the proposal and that building an incinerator on the Harper Lane site contravened an Environment Agency groundwater protection planning policy.

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The agency would not want such a facility “close to water supplies intended for human consumption due to the inherent risks associated with their operation.”

Hertfordshire Biological Records Centre, which maintains an extensive database on the county’s wildlife, warned the facility, “could have a detrimental impact on protected species” and “a criminal act involving European Protected Species could occur as a result of the proposed development.”

The comments follow the recent submission of an environmental impact scoping report by E.ON Energy from Waste (EEW). It wants to treat and dispose of up to 345,000 tonnes of residual municipal waste a year at the Harper Lane site, owned by Lafarge Aggregates in Radlett.

EEW is competing against a bid from Veolia which has submitted a tender to build a facility at a county council-owned site in Hatfield. The council is to appoint its preferred bidder by June 2 this year.

EEW’s scoping report said its planning application would comprise an integrated steam-turbine generator plant for power generation and infrastructure, with the potential to provide steam and hot water to onsite and neighbouring industrial, commercial and residential energy users. It would also have an “incinerator bottom ash reprocessing and recycling area” and a visitors’ centre.

Ancillary plant and equipment would include air-cooled condensers, a stack, residue silos, gatehouse, two weighbridges, parking for 40 vehicles and internal roads. The proposed facility would employ an estimated 52 staff, and become operational during 2015.

There was the potential to use an existing rail link to transport materials on and off the site, it went on.

The report added: “If EEW reaches preferred bidder status in spring 2011 the company will undertake a full public consultation and engagement programme as part of the preparation of the planning application.”

County council comments on the scoping report highlighted potential effects should the facility go ahead at Harper Lane. They include the impact of a potential 30 per cent increase of traffic in the area, possible increased rail traffic, impact of lorry movements on rural roads and emissions and the visual impact of the stack, the height of which is not yet known.