Incineration costly in so many ways

SIR – Regarding the incinerator proposals, may I put an opinion based on over 20 years of research into the subject.

County and local councils will have no control of the activities of the incinerator owner once it is built, waste can be taken from any source, including low level radioactive waste, and it does not have to even come from this county.

South East London Incinerator (SELCHP) has declined to take the waste from an adjacent borough, but the borough cannot stop all the waste lorry traffic passing through it.

Cost: Essex County Council agreed that the alternative plan put foreword by Ecoligica was both more environmentally friendly and far less costly than incineration.

Visual impact: The main building would be about the height of a 15-storey block of flats (150 feet) and the chimney the height of a 30-storey block of flats (304 feet).

This would be out of place anywhere in the county.

Pollution: The discharge of heavy metals and chemicals, particularly of the dioxin group, are very worrying as they cannot be continuously monitored and are known health hazards (such as causing cancer, infertility and damage to the immune system), especially of children.

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The Royal Commission for Environmental Pollution highlights the seriousness of this problem which still arises even with modern incinerators.

The detrimental effect on house prices over a large area surrounding the plants: This was shown by the fact that houses for 10 miles around a proposed very small hospital waste incinerator at Letchworth were un-sellable until the plan was dropped.

Incinerators employ very few people and new business and residents would not relocate near to the plants, they may even drive existing business away from their area.

Recycling plants are environmentally more benign and are a socially more acceptable alternative to incineration. They represent a cheaper and more flexible means of handling a varied waste stream and also would create much more local employment than incinerators.

Lorry traffic: SELCHP Incinerator has a minimum of 50 lorries movements (25 in and 25 out) every HOUR for five-and-a-half days a week during a 10 hour day.

Why are we taking, what must be regarded as a very retrograde step, just when France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy, etc, announce that no more incinerators will be built, according to Mr L Kraemer, boss of EU waste policies.

EU legislation placing tighter controls on emissions will make incineration increasingly more expensive and the last year that I have accurate figures for, 1995, gate fees of �30/tonne, supplemented by �15.40/tonne through the NFFO, are tied to clauses stating that gate fees increase with inflation and also to cover any increased costs to comply with legislation changes.

I could go on, but it gets even more worrying.

Name and address supplied.