Phil's Environment Page (Incineration Issues)
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Recently, here in Basingstoke our County council has built a large waste incinerator, just down the road from us.
They have contracted a company called Hampshire Waste Services (owned by the French Multinational Vivendi, who of course are NOT allowed to build further incinerators in France, where environmental regulations are much tougher than here in the UK...surprise surprise!) who built and now operate this incinerator, as an alternative to landfill.
Now, I am not a NIMBY (I am a NIABY - Not In ANYONE'S Back Yard!) and if the choice was simply down to incineration versus landfill, then I would reluctantly agree with the incinerator option. However there is a more viable and environmentally alternative; what is known as an anaerobic digester.
This technology mixes household waste with sewage sludge and digests it, using the natural bacteria that is present in your garden compost heap. Here in Basingstoke the sewage treatment plant is right next-door to the site of the incinerator so logistically we would be in an ideal position to build a digester instead of an incinerator. The end result is a safe, garden-ready compost that can be sold back to residents to cover costs, and used to replace the humus layer of the soil, making the plant self-financing.
Most of the compost we use at present is peat from the low-lying wetlands, but in-depth scientific studies of the wetlands has recently revealed the real purpose that they serve; the wetlands act as a sort of giant natural sponge, soaking up excess water when the water table is high and releasing it when the water table is low. This helps protect many of the low-lying inland areas, which have been so recently devastated by serious flooding. If we are to avoid a major ecological disaster, we must very soon accept the part that the wetlands play in the ecosystem and start looking into alternative sources of compost for commercial usage. Aerobic digestion therefore presents a viable, sustainable, eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to the destructive and ultimately doomed practice of extracting peat from the wetlands.
There is only a tiny proportion of material that must be landfilled (and this percentage could be further reduced to virtually nil, simply by changing the packaging habits of a number of manufacturers), there is no need for incineration and not only is the problem of household waste dealt with, but so is a significant proportion of our sewage treatment.
This technology has been successfully used in Europe and the US for a number of years and feedback from those towns and cities that use it has been very positive.
The one problem with this alternative is that it doesn't make huge profits for Hampshire Waste Services. HWS receives "Non-Fossil-Fuel Incentives" (NFFI's) from the UK government for incineration, because they can convert a tiny proportion of the energy produced from the incinerator, into electricity (electricity which they can also sell - not to local residents at a discounted fee, but to industry at a premium rate). Although the NFFI rates have been reduced recently, HWS still stands to make up to 3 million pounds a year by selling any electricity produced. No wonder they don't seem keen on the idea of investing in alternative technology!
If you are interested in learning more about aerobic digestion, or the underhanded non-democratic way in which both Hampshire county council and the Labour government have acted to push this noxious, potentially lethal incinerator development through, please visit the BBAC website for further information.
Remember - the next one may be built in your town.
The incinerator is hereby awarded a Bandanna Banana for being something you'd rather slip past!
"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph."
- Haile Selassie.