REASONS TO OPPOSE THE WRG PROPOSALS:
1. PLANNING OBJECTIONS
1.1 The WRG proposal ignores several of the OCC’s own Structure Plan Policies including:
a) Landscape: The development will cause significant and unacceptable damage to the local landscape.
b) Biodiversity Protection: Habitat will be lost that currently supports several protected species.
c) Historic and Cultural Heritage Protection: The integrity of Sutton Courtenay as a village of significant cultural value will be severely affected.
d) Flood Risk: OCC state that new developments should be located away from sites with flood risks as great as those of the WRG Incinerator site.
e) Improving the Quality and Design of Development: The scale of the design is massive and charmless. For WRG to state, ‘the building will become a feature in its own right, in scale and appropriate to its location,’ is far adrift of the reality.
Traffic concerns remain, with increasing pressures likely on the A34 Milton interchange. While promising that all lorry traffic will avoid Appleford and Sutton Courtenay, the presence of a visitor centre at the plant does not preclude visitor traffic using local roads for access.
In the latest application, lorry movements concerned with incineration have reduced due to the lower volume of EfW waste flow now anticipated (220,000 versus 300,000 tonnes per annum). Interestingly, lorry movements concerned with movements of bottom ash are forecast to increase despite the lower volumes of incinerator waste. Also, no projections have been made of traffic volumes expected at the visitor centre.
2. ECONOMIC OBJECTIONS
2.1 Long Term Financial Risk Incinerators require large scale to justify their heavy capital expenditure and always tie waste authorities to 25 or 30 year contracts with heavy penalties on councils if there is a waste shortfall. This imposes a huge financial risk on the taxpayer and the fixed contract effectively closes out future technology and cost savings emerging in the field of waste disposal.
It has proven almost impossible to predict accurately waste levels arising only 3 to 5 years out and no council can predict 10 to 25 year levels. Incinerators allow no financial flexibility. As an illustration, OCC’s estimates of future waste volumes in the county were the cause of much debate at the time and are now deeply flawed, with waste to landfill down almost 20% in the UK this year and recycling rates improving fast – up to 70% in South Oxfordshire over the summer.
2.2 Loss of Revenue Risk Burning waste denies the opportunity for future revenue from the fast developing field of gas generation from waste and the increasing demand for recycled materials as energy costs of metals and plastics rise. The National Grid has called for the government to stop incineration of waste because of its very poor energy recovery. We should also take note when the advisor on waste to the Mayor of London and Biffa Director, Peter Jones, recently stated, ‘building an incinerator in the 21st century is like building a factory for horse drawn carriages.’