SCAI and SC Parish Council Make Statements to the County Council at its Budget Meeting on 10 February highlighting the economic risks of incineration!


1. The National Grid has recently produced a report calling on the government
to introduce policies to limit the wasteful use of municipal waste in incinerators
and instead direct waste to be used to provide 50% of the nation’s gas needs much more efficiently.
“A comprehensive waste policy and regulatory framework is required to ensure that each local authority directs its waste streams towards the most appropriate renewable gas technology and that the waste is appropriately sorted at source to facilitate MAXIMUM RENEWABLE GAS PRODUCTION. As highlighted above, this needs to be done quickly to ensure that Local Authorities which are currently examining waste management programmes do not enter into inefficient electricity generation schemes – e.g. incineration plants where the
heat is not captured and utilised.”

2. Carbon tax is currently approximately E15/tonne and each tonne of waste incineration produces about a tonne of CO2. It is inevitable that carbon tax will
rise and imperil the economics of incineration.

3. Future FUEL PRICE spikes of up to $250/barrel oil equivalent will significantly affect the economics of incineration and increase the alternative value of biodegradable waste as a source of natural gas substitute.

4. In the past incinerators have been closed down because of serious public health damage leaving disposal authorities with no available disposal capacity.
Increasingly medical research is providing evidence that modern incinerators
are causing public health damage potentially leading to legal liability AND CLOSURE.

Given these significant potential risks and the fact that the proposed Oxfordshire mass burn EFW plant will only produce electricity and not combined heat & power, and will generate electricity with less than 25% energy efficiency, WILL OCC now properly evaluate the economics of providing gas substitute from its 155,000 t.p.a of municipal waste intended for incineration, and evaluate the significant risks arising from a 25 year incinerator contract given the above factors, and provide taxpayers with a transparent comparison of the risks, returns and costs of ALL options for disposing of the 155,000 t.p.a of municipal waste, instead of simply relying on incinerator companies.

This will help to ensure that Oxfordshire’s taxpayers are not locked into unsafe, old technology subject to huge risks, while locked out of significant revenue benefits from producing gas substitute for the national grid by anaerobic digestion of the majority of the projected incinerator waste stream, as councils in Blackpool, London and other areas have chosen after FULL economic analysis.

Kent County Councillor Keith Ferrin, the Council’s cabinet member for environmental and waste services, has spoken out about the bad Waste PFI deal negotiated with WRG. Speaking candidly to the press, Cllr Ferrin said: “If I could get out of the long-term contract I have inherited I would do that”.
 HYPERLINK “” \t “_blank” Kent Online quotes Cllr Ferris as saying:
“The people who thought they were being very clever and economical with people’s money ten years ago have produced a situation where the reverse is true, as KCC is now committed to a contract we can’t get out of. What seemed a very wise decision a very long time ago is a very stupid one today.  At the time, people were saying nationally that this was the only way ahead. But if you make a prediction for 10 years’ time, the only thing you can be certain of is that it will be the wrong decision.


AGENDA ITEMS which relate to the statement
Para 33 of Item CC8 Leaders Report for Meeting 10th February states:
‘The Council has been in the process of a Waste dialogue for a new Treatment facility, which will help to reduce future costs.  The long term implications are built into our current assumptions, but we will monitor this area carefully as the project develops’.
Financial Data in Service & Resource Planning – CC8 Annexe 3 – Pages 16 & 17

Also from ITEM CA6 paper to CABINET – 20 JANUARY 2009
Report by Chief Executive and
Assistant Chief Executive & Chief Finance Officer

‘Previously agreed budget changes are included in the current MTFP.  These are changes to the budget agreed in previous years.  The current MTFP includes provision for the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS). The council has been set an allowance in tonnes for the amount of waste it can send to landfill and any shortfall between the allowance and the actual amount of waste will be managed by either paying a LATS fine of £150 per tonne, or by purchasing surplus allowances from other authorities.  The figure in the MTFP reflects an estimate of the cost of purchasing surplus allowances and an estimate of the number of tonnes likely to be required. Both have been revised to reflect the latest prediction. As a result a saving of £0.6m has been identified for 2009/10 and £2.0m in 2010/11. Beyond then, compared to what has already been built into the existing MTFP, additional costs of £1.7m in 2011/12 and £1.0m in 2012/13 have been identified. These will be reviewed annually as the price of purchasing allowances will depend on supply and demand so the current assumptions built in may change.’


A ‘gate fees’ survey report []by the government funded Waste Resources Action Program (WRAP) shows that incineration median gate fees are £80/tonne compared to Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT) at £53/tonne, and Anaerobic Digestion (AD) at £30-£60 per tonne. The latter excludes the value of methane produced which could be sold as an alternative fuel to gas or even used in the gas grid.

Incinerator proposals received from Viridor and Waste Recycling Group compare only outline cost savings of incineration against continuing landfill – with its associated penalties. No assessment of the external costs [] of incineration on the environment has been made yet figures from the U.K. government Waste Strategy 2000 show that the external costs of incineration are WORSE than landfill due mainly to energy, transport and greenhouse gas impacts. Waste 2000 estimates place incineration external costs at £10/tonne compared to £3/tonne for landfill.

Both incinerator proposals purport to be Combined Heat and Power –i.e. that they will generate both electricity and district heating. In Didcot we have been unable to use Didcot A waste heat which is 50 to 100 times the incinerator load.  Even if WRG or Viridor could find customers the efficiency would still be very poor.  No significant use of incinerator waste heat for district heating is in use anywhere in Britain and

a high percentage of previous incinerator CHP proposals which have been built have failed to utilise the waste heat.  If CHP is intended why are the bidders not required to show a list of customers for waste heat as required in Scotland.

Anaerobic digestion on the other hand can feed cleaned gas in to national gas grid to enable a much higher proportion of the recyclable waste energy in the municipal waste stream to be used. EFW plant without waste heat utilisation will realise only 1/3rd to ½ the useable energy of an MBT/AD combination, and therefore will result in considerable loss of revenue to Oxfordshire taxpayers.

The projected incineration proposals may therefore cost over £100m more than alternative processes (based on WRAP gate fee survey), and will also significantly reduce potential revenues from methane recovery and sale.

OCC received only 24 responses [] favouring incineration –out of 891 responses –in its ‘No Time To Waste ‘June 2006 public engagement, but close to 500 against incineration and favouring alternatives, but it has failed to develop proper economic viable proposals for disposing of the 155000 t.p.a by any other method than incineration.

In the light of the recent report by National Grid on ‘Potential for Renewable Gas in UK’ [], we request that OCC should immediately assess, with National Grid, the potential value of its municipal waste stream as a gas source, as well as carrying out a full economic evaluation of cheaper and safer alternatives to incineration, which should include full inclusion of the external costs which the community will have to bear under each method, so that a transparent and valid comparison of the costs to taxpayers is available as the findings of any evaluation will have a significant impact on the long term budget of the County Council.


     WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) Gate Fees Report 2008

From –

External costs – are costs on environmental effects.  The price of incineration is artificially low because it does not adequately include the negative costs to human health and the environment; the price of incineration is artificially low in comparison with recycling because it receives tax breaks and subsidies for energy production. But the energy it produces is significantly less than the energy saved through recycling. Recycling does not receive similar measures

 No Time to Waste

Potential for Renewable Gas in UK National Grid January 2009

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