Incinerator: No obligation to use New Barnfield site

SIR – I am writing in response to the coverage in recent weeks about incineration and the possible future use of the New Barnfield site.

First, it is true that New Barnfield is a site that is being offered to the companies bidding for the contract to deal with Hertfordshire’s household waste, but they are under no obligation to use it and may choose to go elsewhere.

In fact, we know they are also seriously looking at other locations.

Residents also need to be aware of the fact that, whatever the outcome of our waste facility procurement process, New Barnfield has been earmarked for development of some kind in the borough council’s Local Development Framework.

Whatever the site is used for in the future, any planning application will go through a rigorous planning process, which will include public consultation.

With regard to the size of a future energy from waste facility, from the outset of the procurement process we have said that we need a solution that can deal with 345,000 tonnes of Hertfordshire’s household waste by 2039/40.

However, 75,000 tonnes of this is unlikely to be suitable for disposal at an energy from waste facility, hence the fact that the tonnage of Hertfordshire’s household waste to be dealt with at an energy from waste facility is likely to be nearer 270,000.

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If we can continue to reduce and recycle more waste, this figure might only be as little as two-thirds of that amount.

At the recent cabinet waste panel we discussed the fact that the bidders need to remember, as well as the 270,000 tonnes of waste that can be dealt with at an energy from waste facility, they also need to find a way to deal with the 75,000 tonnes of waste that isn’t suitable for treatment in this way.

Therefore the claims that we are ‘secretly proposing’ a larger facility are very misleading. The discussion about this was held at a meeting which is open to the public and the papers for the meeting are available to view on our website.

Finally, a couple of points about energy from waste facilities.

Wherever the facility is located, it will be strictly regulated by the Environment Agency. We are also stipulating that the successful bidder will have to demonstrate regularly to the public that emissions are within the Environment Agency’s stringent guidelines.

I would also like to assure residents that the current negotiations over the proposed energy from waste facility are being conducted on the basis that the county council sees recycling as a high priority.

We are very ambitious about increasing recycling levels well beyond the 46 per cent currently being achieved and any future arrangements for dealing with residual household waste will not impinge on our continuing recycling efforts.

Unfortunately it isn’t possible to answer all the issues raised within a single letter so I recommend reading the frequently asked questions on our website,

Derrick Ashley,

Executive member for waste,

Hertfordshire County Council.