Harpenden-Luton incinerator “would make everyone’s lives miserable”, say campaigners

The land around Lower Harpenden Rd, between Harpenden and Luton which has been identified as a possi

The land around Lower Harpenden Rd, between Harpenden and Luton which has been identified as a possible site for an incinerator. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Campaigners are fighting proposals for a new incinerator near Harpenden and Kimpton.

Energy company Emsrayne will be applying to Central Bedfordshire Council for permission to build the Lea Bank Energy Park at New Mill End, north of Harpenden and west of Kimpton.

Tim Armstrong-Taylor for the Stop the Harpenden-Luton Incinerator group (SHLI) said: “It’s going to make everyone’s lives miserable.

“We are trying to make people aware of it as it is something that has no need to be there.”

The Kimpton resident says the UK will need to dispose of 10.4m tonnes of waste by 2030, but it already has the capacity to dispose of 14.9m with a further capacity for 4.9m tonnes under construction.

This will mean the UK will have the capacity to dispose of 9m more tonnes of waste than it needs to, even without this new incinerator.

“We will have to import waste from abroad and not only will we be putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, there will be lorry jams as well.”

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According to SHLI, the plant will be 15 storeys high, as big as Harpenden High Street, and if approved will burn 500,000 tonnes of residual waste, non-hazardous material left over from the recycling process, every year, which residents worry will create CO2.

Kinsbourne Green resident Stuart Ball said: “My family and I live less than two miles from the site so I am primarily concerned about the effect of the emissions on our health.

“A record of prevailing wind conditions for July 17 showed the wind blowing directly from the proposed site over Kinsbourne Green, Wood End and Roundwood.

“Apart from two children, my 84-year-old mother lives with us. She has serious health conditions including emphysema, which I fear will be affected and exacerbated by the particulate emissions originating from the incinerator, which she will be subject to 24 hours per day.

“My daughter teaches at a local pre-school, also located within two miles of the proposed site so will also be subject to the emissions. Not to mention the children.

“I am further concerned about the effect of increased traffic on roads that are narrow and already very congested. This will disrupt local traffic to an enormous extent and cause additional CO2 emissions from the huge expected number of waste delivery vehicles and from private and commercial vehicles stuck in the resulting congestion.

“There is already huge pressure to identify land for housing and schools in the area. If we are going to sacrifice greenbelt land, then let it be for something that benefits the community as opposed to the erection of a hideous, non-sustainable and polluting industrial complex.”

The plant would work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and Emsrayne predicts it will produce 50 mega-watts (MW) of heat and 49.99MW of electricity.

However this power will be mainly for new developments in and around Luton Airport, as well as homes and businesses in the local area.

A spokesperson for Luton Borough Council, who own the airport, said: “To clarify: this proposed development is not connected to, or developed on behalf of, London Luton Airport. This is a private developer.

“We have been approached by Central Bedfordshire Council as part of their consultation on the proposals, and while we are yet to take a formal position, we can confirm a combined heat and power plant are at odds with the council’s own energy strategy and vision, which is based on solar and wind generation. However this is clearly a matter for our neighbouring authority.

“Our airport company has confirmed if the scheme were to be approved, there is potential for the airport to be among those who could benefit from this additional source of power, but could only be supportive if environmental impacts were kept to a minimum.”

Kimpton Parish Council has given SHLI £500 to fight the proposals and Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami is also opposed.

He and Mr Armstrong-Taylor visited the House of Lords recently for the launch of a report into the UK’s incinerators.

Mr Afolami said: “From damaging environmental effects to huge traffic congestion, the plethora of issues gives me little hope this proposal is beneficial to the area in which we live. I cannot see any positive impact to the plans for Hertfordshire residents.

“After attending the public consultation at East Hyde Village Hall on June 23, my initial reservations have grown even stronger. I have been working closely with SHLI. We met last Friday to discuss our next steps and have compiled a list of questions gathered through public consultation to ask Emsrayne, the builders of the incinerator.

“I also attended the public launch of this new report, published by United Kingdom Without Incineration Network on waste incineration at the House of Lords.

“It gave me a great deal of insight into the national policy surrounding waste incineration.

“A recurring theme that struck me was the degree to which waste incineration can disincentivise recycling. The report also highlighted incinerators regularly exceed pollution reporting that it is not always made public.

“I will continue to work with all parties involved to ensure no incinerator is built in this area.”

A spokesperson for Lea Bank Energy Park says the plant will allow them to extract energy from materials which would not be recycled anyway.

Libby Forrest from Environmental Services Association said: “Energy for Waste (EfW) is one of the most tightly regulated combustion processes. Its emissions limit for particulate matter is amongst the lowest applied to any industry.

“EfW plants continuously monitor particulate matter, which captures PM10 and PM2.5, which is reported to and independently verified by the Environment Agency. Results show that the average EfW operates well below the emissions limit.”