LETTER: Views on waste burner plans

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The Member of Parliament for Halton, Derek Twigg, has discovered that the findings of a study to be presented to Parliament into whether municipal waste incinerators can affect health have been delayed further into next year.

The research was announced by the Health Protection Agency in 2012 and provisional results were due to be published in 2014.

However, in a written answer to Parliament (31.10.16) to a question asked by Mr Twigg MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health Nicola Blackwood has said this was now not expected to happen until spring 2017.

(www.parliament.uk/business/publications/ written-questions-answers-statements/ written-question/Commons/ 2016-10-26/50386/

This study into the effects of emissions from energy-from-waste (EfW) plants on human health was first announced in 2012 – with findings initially expected in March 2014. The work is being funded by Public Health England (PHE) and is being carried out by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) at Imperial College and the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London.

However, because of ‘unanticipated complexity in gathering data’ the publication date has subsequently been delayed several times.

Responding to the written question on the status of the project by the MP for Halton Derek Twigg, Nicola Blackwood has confirmed that the work remains ‘ongoing’. She wrote: ‘Public Health England funded study by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) at Imperial College and the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London investigating the potential link between emissions from municipal waste incinerators and health outcomes is ongoing. It is expected that papers from the project will be submitted by SAHSU to peer reviewed journals in spring 2017, and papers to be published later in the year.’

The research project is made up of a number of review papers looking at the different possible human health impacts of waste incinerators, with King’s College London and Imperial College London both being funded by PHE and Zero Waste Scotland to carry out the research. In total, the project involves examining areas of up to 3.1miles (5km) around 22 incinerators across England, as well as the Dundee Energy Recycling Ltd EfW in Scotland.

The length of time to prepare this detailed scientific report to Parliament into the potential health hazards of mass waste burners shows the importance of our elected representatives taking the precautionary approach when it comes to BritaniaCrest’s planning application for a 24/7 waste burner in North Horsham next to a proposed primary school.

I note that our own MP Jeremy Quin continues to enjoy half a page of ‘free speech’ each week in this newspaper writing about everything other than key issues facing his constituents. Why isn’t Mr Quin telling us that he too is raising the matter in Parliament?

Why is the MP for Halton, Cheshire, able to ask written questions about this major issue, yet our own MP is silent? Horsham District Council is a significant consultee on BritaniaCrest’s proposal. The leader Cllr Dawe, planning chief Cllr Vickers, cabinet member for waste Cllr Cornell and cabinet member for public health Cllr Rowbottom have said nothing on the issue although the announcement about the proposed plant was made months ago.

We need to hear urgently from our key elected representatives about this incinerator application. And BritaniaCrest’s planning application must be rejected until this important, but delayed, Public Health England report has been released.

Dr Geoffrey Richardson

Tennyson Close, Horsham


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