Time questions were answered in person

SIR – Councillor Derrick Ashley will have to do better than his recent letter (‘No obligation to use New Barnfield site’) if he is to reassure Hatfield residents worried at the threat by county council Conservatives to build a massive waste incinerator in the town.

Firstly, he suggests that, if recycling increases, then a 270,000 tonne incinerator might not be needed.

This is precisely what worries many of us.

When recycling continues to increase – it has risen from 15 per cent in 2001 to 46 per cent today – then the incinerator will only survive by importing waste from London or Bedfordshire.

Perhaps, even worse, if the county council signs up to a 270,000 incineration contract, it will lose all incentive to increase its financial investment in recycling, because it will already have paid for all our waste to be processed.

Secondly, he rightly points out that any development on the New Barnfield library site will require a planning process.

The key difference is that a planning application for housing, offices or warehouses would be considered by the borough council.

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While Welwyn Hatfield Council is certainly open to criticism, at least its councillors live locally and would have to live with the consequences of their decision.

In contrast, if the county council wants to see an incinerator at New Barnfield, then the planning application would be dealt with by the county council itself.

The ongoing reluctance of county council officers to come to Hatfield and explain their apparent enthusiasm to build an incinerator in our back yard hardly suggests to local residents we should be confident about the county council’s decision making processes.

Thirdly, he tells us that the county council wants to increase recycling levels “well beyond” the current 46 per cent.

Unfortunately, the only target figure in the council’s recent waste consultation is a recycling target of 50 per cent.

This is hardly ambitious given recent trends in recycling.

One area where Derrick Ashley is spot on, is in his statement that it is impossible to answer all local residents’ questions in a single letter.

Perhaps, after all the worry the county council has caused, Derrick Ashley might finally come to Hatfield and meet local residents to answer their questions in person?

I can think of a very large number who’d like to hear his answers!

Mike Hobday,

Labour Parliamentary candidate,

Welwyn Hatfield.