MPs condemn Radlett incinerator bid

A COUNCIL bid to install an incinerator on Green Belt land in Radlett to burn hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste a year has been labelled bizarre and “a blow too far” in Parliament.

St Albans MP Anne Main and Hertsmere MP James Clappison both cast doubt on the proposed county facility that will be built in either Radlett or Hatfield.

Mr Clappison criticised Herts County Council for provoking wide concern among residents after, without public consultation, narrowing its choice of site for the incinerator to two possible locations.

The Lafarge Aggregates site in Harper Lane had emerged as a contender “out of the blue” despite being close to what he described as a notorious traffic congestion blackspot.

He said that while Harper Lane was in Mrs Main’s constituency, his constituents, particularly those in Radlett, would be considerably affected.

Speaking in Parliament last Wednesday the MP urged politicians to examine the way in which local authorities took decisions on waste management.

He went on: “The process being followed in Hertfordshire which has led to the selection of Harper Lane as a possible site seems somewhat odd, if not bizarre.”

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He explained that council announced in July last year that it was considering Radlett as one of two possible locations in Hertfordshire for a major waste incinerator but several months later it launched a consultation on a new county waste plan.

Mr Clappison asked: “What was the point of the consultation undertaken by the council given that it had already announced that the Harper Lane site was one of two possible locations for the incinerator?”

Meanwhile, the coalition government is currently conducting a waste policy review, including the role of energy from waste, with results to be made public in May this year.

Mr Clappison said: “Should a county council undertake such a course when a government consultation is under way and may produce results that are at odds with the course taken by the county council?”

He labelled the council’s efforts as “premature” and “strange” given that when it submitted an outline business case to obtain �115 million of private finance initiative credits, Harper Lane was not a reference site for that bid.

Mr Clappison went on: “In June of this year, if not before, the county council is set to announce its preferred bidder and site [either Hatfield or Radlett]. Up to that point there will have been no opportunity for public consultation about the emergence of Harper Lane as a site.”

The public had been, “kept in the dark because there is essentially no public information on why Harper Lane was chosen as a second potential incinerator site”, he went on.

He continued: “Many residents all over Hertfordshire might want to ask whether there should be an incinerator at all and whether incineration is the most environmentally friendly process in all the circumstances.”

Mrs Main said: “I do not believe that Harper Lane is the site on which to put an incinerator. It is already a compromised site and a rat run and it is heavily utilised by lorries. To have waste going into the area to be incinerated as well would be a blow too far.

“Local people should not have to feel that it is another scheme being railroaded past them.”

She went on: “We should ensure that the public do not have any hint that there is a stitched-up deal done behind closed doors.”

In response the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Richard Benyon, said that one person’s waste was another person’s resource and “the recovery of energy from certain wastes has a role to play in moving us towards a zero-waste economy.”

He went on: “There is no silver bullet but incineration is one of the many means available for meeting our renewable energy needs.

“I must emphasise that all modern waste incinerators are subject to stringent pollution controls. The Environment Agency will not grant permits required for an incinerator to operate if a facility is not compliant.”

Mr Benyon said landfill was the “least desirable” way of managing waste and that government’s priority was to keep waste out of such facilities “whenever possible”.