Radlett anti-incinerator groups lodge complaint against county’s article

ANTI-INCINERATOR campaigners have blasted the county council for publishing a pro-energy from waste article they claim is “misleading, inaccurate and in places patently untrue.”

Environmentalists from 11 organisations have come together to level a number of accusations at Herts County Council for its editorial The future of Hertfordshire’s Waste in the winter 2010 edition of its Horizons publication. The council magazine is published quarterly and sent to 470,000 households.

Derrick Ashley, executive member for environment, planning and waste, is quoted in the article saying: “An Energy from Waste facility would help us manage our waste for the future benefit of the county.”

The article also said energy from waste had been identified as the, “best way for Hertfordshire to deal with this [household] waste in an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable and safe manner.”

Campaigners have lodged a formal complaint with the council saying the article contravenes the government’s code of recommended practice on local authority publicity which advises councils publishing editorial on controversial issues they should be objective, fair and “handled with care.”

Environmentalists are fighting a controversial proposed incinerator which the county council wants built by 2015 to dispose of Hertfordshire’s municipal waste. It is currently evaluating tenders for the facility to be built at either Harper Lane in Radlett or New Barnfield in South Hatfield.

Spokesman for Herts Without Waste, David Ashton, said: “The council seems to be more interested in publishing subjective and misleading information than in properly informing people about what’s happening.”

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Complaints against the article allege that:

• It said incineration was “one of the cleanest forms of energy generation” when, according to campaigners, it is dirtier than gas-fired power stations;

• An illustration accompanying the article shows clean flue gases being emitted but campaigners say that official monitoring of incinerator emissions shows the presence of pollutants;

• Ash is shown as being recycled “with no mention that some of the ash is classed as hazardous waste”.

Campaigning groups, including Hatfield Against Incineration and St Albans District Green Party, have also criticised the council for publishing the article giving preference to energy from waste while it is in the final stage of public consultation on its waste core strategy.

A county council spokeswoman said they would respond to the campaigners’ concerns about the article in full in due course.

But regarding concerns about ash from the facility she said: “Incinerator bottom ash can be recycled as aggregate. Fly ash, also known as ‘air pollution control residues’ is sent for hazardous waste disposal.”

The spokeswoman said energy from waste was “proposed by bidders as part of the waste procurement process to find a solution for dealing with Hertfordshire’s residential municipal waste, which began in 2008.”

She added: “Separate to this, the recent waste planning consultation is part of the process of preparing for the Waste Core Strategy and Development Policies Development Plan document. These waste planning documents outline a strategy to guide the development of waste facilities across the county and do not prescribe the use of particular technologies. The site allocations document will identify which type of facility may be suitable within identified areas.”