Incinerator decision day: Energy firm bosses heckled during tense meeting

PUBLISHED: 13:58 24 October 2012 | UPDATED: 20:59 24 October 2012

The proposed incinerator

The proposed incinerator

Archant

OFFICIALS from energy firm Veolia - which is behind a hated incinerator plan in New Barnfield - were heckled today as they put forward their case.

At a tense meeting at County Hall, the firm’s director of planning, Nick Hollands, urged a committee of councillors to approve the controversial bid.

He said the plant, which would process up to 380,000 tonnes of waste a year, would save Herts County Council £31million each year in landfill costs, and would be a boost to the economy.

Mr Hollands hit back at claims that not enough had been done to identify suitable alternative sites for the plant.

He told the meeting: “The proposals will provide an urgently needed waste solution for Hertfordshire.

“It will divert residual waste from landfill.”

He said the need for the plant had been proven, and with the UK set to be hit with fines for putting rubbish into landfill by the EU, the facility would benefit ratepayers.

Mr Hollands said 350 jobs would be created during construction, followed by 52 permanent jobs on completion.

He added that the impact on neighbouring Southfield School, which caters for youngsters with special educational needs, had been “foremost” in the company’s mind while putting together the application.

And he said air quality readings would be published each month to allay concerns about health impacts, and said Veolia would work closely with the school if the incinerator is approved.

He also said a community engagement group would continue to meet to address concerns from neighbours.

Mr Hollands told today’s meeting of Herts County Council’s development control committee: “The facility is based on safe, proven and robust technology which fits well with the long term strategy of the council.”

And he described the plant as an “efficient renewable energy” facility, with burned waste set to be converted into electricity.

But Mr Hollands was heckled persistently as he put his case forward, and provoked hearty laughter from protesters when he described the design as “inspiring”.

One protestor was warned he would be removed if he persisted in interrupting.

A decision on whether to allow the plant to go ahead is expected to be reached this afternoon, or possibly tomorrow.

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