I’ve been asked by quite a few parents and members of the community recently where I stand with regards to the proposed incinerator being planned within a kilometre of the school. The short answer is that I can’t answer the question at the moment, as I don’t have all the information regarding the proposed development.
What follows are some of the factors we have to consider:
As a parent my first reaction would no doubt be one of concern and I would certainly want to know exactly what is the quality of air around the school was going to be like? I’ve been told by the company (Mor Hafren) that the amount of contaminate that is released into the air is so small that it can barely be measured; only on the most sophisticated measuring devices. Part of the plan does include constant measuring of air quality. However, I know local groups are concerned about particulates such as PM2.5 which can penetrate our airways and enter the body. The company however claim that this is a new model of incinerator and has passed all the stringent new European air safety pollution laws in Denmark, where one is located in the centre of Copenhagen. Perhaps the level of contaminants released is small, but I would also want to know what the long term effect would be. Would the contaminants build up in our body over time?
I have written to environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth to find out their views on this.
This is an interesting one – when I was told by the company that the main thing to come out the chimney was water (steam) and carbon dioxide (There are other particulates, as I mentioned above), I immediately thought about global warming, but then I found out that the incinerator will burn 200,000 tonnes of waste each year and have a residue of £50,000 which has to go to landfill. In other words, there will be 150,000 tonnes less rubbish in a landfill site releasing greenhouse gasses. Of course the sums aren’t as simple as that, there will have to be a specially built/lined landfill site to take this waste, because it will be toxic, but there is still less waste. I’d like to know what produces more CO2, the incinerator or the landfill site storing the same amount of waste.
Nowadays nuclear seems to be touted as the lesser of two evils when measured against coal or gas power (although ideally and ultimately, we want renewable energy). Perhaps the same argument can be applied here when it comes to the release of greenhouse gasses; is the incinerator the lesser of two evils? Maybe not when it’s on your doorstep. Which brings me on to . . .
The impact on the local community
I don’t live in the local area, but I can understand the concerns you might have. The building is going to be very big and VERY visible in the local area. As you drive down Trowbridge road towards the school, it will be visible. The question you’d have to ask is whether this is something you want to see in your area. There are arguments about it being placed in a site of special scientific interest (all of the levels are), however the site is also on a brown field, industrial development site.
Noise and smell I’m told will not be an issue as the building is held under negative pressure, which means all smell is sucked in and contained within the building and noise is negligible. I can’t comment on this yet. Before I’m able to comment, I would like first to hear from someone who lives in the vicinity of a similar model of incinerator.
Traffic is a concern for many. I’m told the 80 lorries per day (40 in and 40 out) will only travel by the main roads to the site, but will this cause additional congestion in the area? I guess it depends on the time of day these lorries will be delivering. On the other side of the fence, you could argue that these lorries would still be on the road taking our rubbish to a landfill site somewhere.
I’m sure there will be an initial increase in job opportunities, during the construction phase, but when fully functional, there will only be only 40 additional jobs when the building is functioning.
It’s a difficult one. As a Headteacher, I’m obviously concerned about contaminants and will certainly want to gather the hard facts on this. I don’t dispute the information local groups have provided, but I want to know amounts and effects on health. Likewise, I want a full list of contaminants, quantities and effects on health from Mor Hafren and Welsh Government.
Environmentally, we live in very difficult times and as a Head, I don’t think we’re doing enough in the school to make our students aware of what is happening to our world. This will be an opportunity for them to begin to develop an interest in our environment. Ultimately, all of us produce far too much waste and consume too much across the world. An incinerator is perhaps a solution, while we struggle to find ways to reduce our waste, however I can understand why many are against of it being so close to housing.
I will continue to keep parents posted with regards to any developments.