Monday, 2 August 2010

Incinerator ... eco-town ... ?

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were the 31st, 32nd and 33rd days of the Public Inquiry into the Incinerator. All the evidence has now been tabled, witnesses cross-examined and we will next reconvene on the 4th, 5th and potentially 6th of October for the various parties to present their closing statements.

The final witness was Tim Greenwood, a planning consultant representing SITA, and this last week was necessary for the scrutiny of his arguments.

I won’t attempt the cover the minutae of the various discussions, but I will comment on something that has not been widely covered in the media. And that is the relationship of the proposed incinerator to the eco-town.

It was acknowledged at the Inquiry that the adjacent clay processing facilities would only be able to take 6-8% of the heat produced by the incinerator (allegedly a combined heat and power plant). SITA are now arguing, however, that the proposed eco-town developments at Drinnick/Nanpean and Blackpool could potentially take the heat and have stated they were in negotiations with Imerys. It even submitted a letter to this affect from Imerys, which was dated 2009.

We really grilled Mr Greenwood on this point. I asked about the negotiations. There was no answer because it was commercially confidential, we were told. I asked him about the likely timetable for the construction of the westernmost parts of the eco-town - again great certainty, though it was acknowledged that it would be a great many years before houses and industrial premises were likely to be built.

Mr Greenwood was also asked whether there were any negotiations with the new company ECO-BOS taking the eco-town forward or its main stakeholder ORASCOM. Again – no answer.

Everyone knows I am not a great supporter of the eco-town, but I would have thought it would aim to have wind turbines, ground-source heat pumps and other sustainable forms of heat generation. I would have thought it would not need to import heat over several miles, along an expensive infrastructure of pipework, from an unsustainable incinerator burning 240,000 tonnes of rubbish each year.

Isn’t it about time that the promoters of the eco-town scheme made a public statement that they are not interested in heat from the proposed incinerator?

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