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Fears over 'independent' planning experts for Gloucestershire incinerator

By The Citizen  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

Artist's impression of the new incinerator

Artist's impression of the new incinerator

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FEARS of campaigners that experts overseeing Gloucestershire's incinerator plans may not be "independent" have been dismissed by the council.

Gloucestershire County Council has given BPP Consulting the job of overseeing the planning process for the £500million waste burner it wants Urbaser Balfour Beatty to build and run at Javelin Park, Haresfield.

Anti-incinerator campaigners say the appointment is wrong because the firm worked with Buckinghamshire County Council ahead of approval for the incinerator there. The furore escalated on Monday night when Hardwicke parish councillors called for an investigation into the appointment.

Vice chairman David Moss said: "It doesn't seem right that a firm who helped to get another incinerator approved should be appointed and labelled as 'independent'."

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The meeting heard, and the county council has confirmed, that it has appointed Chris Kenneford as its senior planning officer for the incinerator – who previously worked for the Buckinghamshire local authority and recommended approval of that burner.

Campaign group Glosvain said, in a press release, it believes the previous planner Ben Gilpin was 'side-lined' in favour of Mr Kenneford, a suggestion which the council rejects. It is understood that Mr Gilpin asked to be taken off the project.

Sue Oppenheimer, chairman of Glosvain, said: "This is not normal practice, we believe that the officers have been side-lined and it seems to us that the purpose is to push through these plans."

Alan Potter, from BPP Consulting, said: "We are approaching this with a completely open mind and our role is to support the county council in achieving the right decision, whatever that might be.

"We look at the evidence and we advise the county council but at the end of the day it is up to the politicians to make a decision."

Duncan Jordan, the council's chief operating officer, said: "They are a highly professional organisation and I am confident that they will be able to look at this application completely independently."

Key facts:

Rising landfill costs mean Gloucestershire County Council wants to send residual waste to a new energy-from-waste incinerator

It will cost £500 million and will be run for 25 years by Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) at Javelin Park

A contract has been signed but planning permission is still being sought

More than 92 per cent of the county’s residual waste will be diverted from landfill, which is said to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases

Anti-incinerator campaigners fear an adverse health impact from the incinerator’s emissions, but UBB says it meets all safety standards

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  • JASB999  |  November 09 2012, 10:52AM

    @Bonkim2003 "mixed up with everything else and collecting and transporting all the wrappers, cling-film and egg boxes, and reprocessing into useful materials -which also use energy, and water; often it is far more economic to process from virgin materials than reprocessing from waste." Is cost your only motivation? It isn't mine, I would prefer to pay more for products that come from sustainable production. It may be the cheapest option but I don't think burning our waste is the best option.

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  • Bratfurd  |  November 09 2012, 9:54AM

    Find it odd that Alan Potter is also director of Beyond Waste Ltd, a company which seems to do the exact same thing as BPP Consulting. Not suggesting it's anything nefarious however.

    Rate   -1
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  • Raccoon  |  November 08 2012, 6:48PM

    He who pays the piper calls the tune. Independent? No, they'll do as they're told.

    Rate   7
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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 08 2012, 6:35PM

    recycle_reuse - unless it is your religion - plastics recycling and remanufacture is pretty expensive unless particular types are available in large quantity, source seggregated - where there is scope, this is already done, but try separating, etc, mixed up with everything else and collecting and transporting all the wrappers, cling-film and egg boxes, and reprocessing into useful materials -which also use energy, and water; often it is far more economic to process from virgin materials than reprocessing from waste. Return shipping containers were used to ship some of this stuff to China or wherever where costs are lower, but under U.K conditions, hugely expensive. Theoretically plastics are inert, take ages to decompose - so can easily be landfilled without any adverse effects - but combustion produces nett energy gain - some use from the waste. The main purpose of Waste to energy plants is to get rid of waste economically/controlled emission - not as a primary source of electricity - but once combusted by-product electricity or heat is a net gain - electricity easy to send to grid - heat less so. MBT is an intermediate process - needing further landfill or incineration/gasification, etc, not costed or elaborated. Report (2008) referred to a bit old and there are many other reports on the subject matter - hope you have read it and understood the contents - merely looking at the GHG balance - not the whole picture - range of cost, operational/practical and environmental issues associated with different options, and needs site-specific exercise - not generalisation. Key Extracts from the Executive Summary (own-goal): "It should be noted that we do not at any point in the study aim to assess: .. Whether some of the more complex scenarios will perform effectively in practice; .. Costs or gate fees associated with any of the scenarios; and .. Alternative environmental impacts. No further comments except - conclusions based on a little knowledge is often dangerous.

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  • nat-obz  |  November 08 2012, 3:45PM

    Questions have been raised. Track Gloucestershire County Council's answers by going to: http://tinyurl.com/bqr83gz We have a right to know!

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  • recycle_reuse  |  November 08 2012, 2:16PM

    Future2010 - "Incineration is the waste technology with the highest CO2 emissions" (referenced by Bonkim2003) Incinerating all plastics in black bag waste as is proposed at Javelin Park certainly creates much more CO2 than extracting those plastics and recycling them into new bottles and containers. It is insane to burn these valuable polymers in an age of rising petroleum costs. The organic materials will go through the carbon cycle through natural decay or incineration, but burning produces toxic dioxins which composting does not. These dioxins are either released into the air, or go into landfill and the wider environment as toxic ash. Producing electricity in a mass burn incinerator is one of the worst for production of greenhouse gases compared to other waste treatment options - http://tinyurl.com/cfs6g9n And more generally, a mass burn "energy from waste" incinerator is more polluting than other types of combustion power stations - http://tinyurl.com/ydoymeo "Incinerators emit more CO2 per megawatt-hour than coal-fired, natural-gas-fired, or oil-fired power plants. Incinerating materials such as wood, paper, yard debris, and food discards is far from "climate neutral"; rather, incinerating these and other materials is detrimental to the climate."

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 08 2012, 11:30AM

    Future2010 - anything that burns fast as in a fire - or slow as just decomposing slowly in air produces carbon dioxide - the quantities are no different (basic chemistry); if it rots slowly in nature - including composting, unless it is turned regularly to aerate the process, also produces methane and other pollutants much more harmful than carbon dioxide. Pick what you want - you can't avoid carbon dioxide - you, me and the forests, animals, insects, breathe in and produce much carbon dioxide - coal, oil is carbon trapped over the eons. No escaping carbon - we are made of the stuff, eat it and throw it out with almosr everything we use and which in turn turns to carbon dioxide one way or the other.

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  • recycle_reuse  |  November 08 2012, 11:20AM

    Quote - "It is understood that Mr Gilpin asked to be taken off the project." If you wanted to do your job properly but were being placed under unreasonable pressure to compromise your principles wouldn't you want to be taken off that project? My sources tell me that Mr Gilpin has been placed under great stress.

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  • recycle_reuse  |  November 08 2012, 11:11AM

    BPP Consulting is a partnership of three individuals that was only created this year. It has not yet submitted its first year of accounts and therefore has no meaningful track record in business. Duncan Jordan's claim that they are a 'highly professional organisation' is meaningless for a company that has existed for such a short period of time and has no legitimate business history. Jordan cannot have any reasonable evidence to support his statement. Questions need to be asked - How was BPP chosen and how much are they being paid by GCC? Was a proper tender process entered into and who were the other candidates? Councils are obliged to act fairly when awarding contracts, and tender is the usual process. In a case as contentious is this, it is even more important that proper procedure is followed. From my experience in business, consultants are usually hired to give the answer the client wants to hear. The client in this case is a council that wants to build an incinerator against the wishes of local residents. Is GCC really saying that after months of planning work they have suddenly discovered, at this late stage, that they need to replace their (supposedly impartial) planning officers with a bought in team who will bring bought advice. There's clearly a rubbish problem at Shire Hall. Something there is rotten and creating one heck of a stench.

    Rate   14
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  • Lecorche  |  November 08 2012, 10:44AM

    The stench from GCC just increased.

    Rate   12
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