The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take steps to investigate alternative sites for the incinerator or alternative means of disposing of waste in an environmentally friendly manner.
The Government are working towards a zero-waste economy. The revised Waste Framework Directive sets out an order of priority in which waste should be managed. Preventing waste, and reusing and recycling as much as possible of what is produced takes precedence, but there will always be some residual waste that cannot be reused, recycled or composted. Studies have shown that recovering energy from this waste, by conventional incineration and other more advanced technologies such as gasification, results in less greenhouse gas emissions compared to the alternative of disposal in landfill.
It is the responsibility of local authorities to decide how waste is managed in their respective areas. Local authorities need to be free to procure technologies that can contribute to an integrated solution for local waste. It is the role of the relevant local planning authority to consider the planning application, ensuring that local planning policies are adhered to.
In deciding which locations to identify for waste facilities in their Local Development Plan documents, waste planning authorities should assess their suitability against established criteria. These criteria will include the physical and environmental constraints on development, existing and proposed neighbouring land uses, and any significant adverse environmental impacts on environmental quality. It is important, however, that any strategies and plans do not prejudice the achievement of local or national waste management targets, and to ensure that options for reuse, recycling and composting are explored first.
Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton are working together to prepare the South London Waste Plan. There have been three stages of consultation on the plan. The most recent consultation, covering Additional Sites, closed in March 2010. It is intended that the final version of the South London Waste Plan will be published for consultation in October-November 2010 and submitted in February 2011.
All waste facilities are subject to environmental monitoring and regulation by the Environment Agency. Emissions from municipal comply, with stringent standards applied through the Waste Incineration Directive (WID). The directive applies to all incineration technologies and limits, as far as practicable, pollution by emissions into air, soil, surface and groundwater, and the resulting risks to human health, from the incineration of waste. The Environment Agency requires that such plants monitor a range of pollutant substances continuously.
If the former hon. Member has general concerns around the emissions levels of modern waste facilities I would point him to two recent reports, by the Health Protection Agency September 2009 and by Professor Jim Bridges February 2010. Both independent reports reach the same conclusion that there is no significant risk to public health from incinerator emissions.
The South London Waste Partnership has been allocated private finance initiative (PFI) credits for their waste management solution. It must be noted that when authorities apply for PFI credits, they have to demonstrate how their proposal will support the whole waste hierarchy-from increasing recycling and composting rates, to improving waste minimisation and increasing diversion from landfill. All projects are expected to consider the carbon footprint of their technology choice, and are encouraged to achieve the greatest carbon benefits.