Campaigners and council have differing views on incinerator report

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Campaigners at No Wey Incinerator, which is opposing the plan for a fourth incinerator in Hampshire, say they have uncovered evidence that Hampshire County Council is actively discouraging the development of incinerators in nearby counties.

The action group discovered the waste planning team at Hampshire County Council (HCC) offered Dorset County Council advice in the form of an official report that concludes south-east England already has enough incineration capacity.

Produced in May 2021 by the South East Waste Planning Advisory Group (SEWPAG), of which HCC is a member, it was sent to Dorset County Council by the HCC waste planning team during the consultation period for an incinerator at Portland in Dorset.

The report states there is no further need for incineration capacity in south-east England, and concludes that if additional incineration is approved then there is a risk of not meeting the UK’s 65 per cent recycling requirement by 2035.

A No Wey Incinerator spokesman said: “At a time when we are about to find out whether the rural Wey Valley will be destroyed by an unnecessary fourth Hampshire incinerator, we have to ask why HCC appears to be discouraging incineration in nearby counties. The HCC waste planning team was part of the group that produced the SEWPAG report and must have agreed with its conclusions.

“We consider the fact HCC waste planning was involved in compiling the SEWPAG report confirms the department agrees Hampshire does not need yet another incinerator.

“But their actions raise serious questions and leave us asking if HCC is employing double standards here.

“Why does HCC appear to oppose incinerator applications by other developers both inside and outside Hampshire on the basis of there being no need, but continues to consider an incinerator proposal by its own waste contractor Veolia?

“And why is the HCC strategic planning department pressuring other parts of HCC to downgrade their seemingly reasonable objections, on the basis of need, to the Veolia development?

“Is the real answer that HCC is in favour of more incinerators in Hampshire rather than other regions so the county can become the dustbin for the whole of the south east and beyond?

“We will continue to press HCC for complete transparency via more Freedom of Information requests, which they are being extremely slow to answer. The public has a right to know why HCC and Veolia seem to think Hampshire is in need of more incinerator capacity than nearby counties, especially when other qualified authorities are saying enough is enough.”

Hampshire County Council said the No Wey Incinerator group was choosing facts to suit its argument.

The council runs the administration of SEWPAG and therefore provided copies of two reports on non-recyclable waste treatment capacity in south-east England for information to Dorset County Council when it was consulted on the Portland energy recovery facility application as a neighbouring authority.

Hampshire County Council said: “It should, of course, be noted Dorset is not within the south-east region for these purposes. The interpretation of the findings suggested in the No Wey Group statement is also rather misleading, and selective.”

Regarding the Alton incinerator, it said it had also undertaken its own “detailed and up-to-date assessment of need and capacity, specifically in relation to commercial or industrial waste”.