Giant Welsh incinerator proposal will be key test for new planning rules

London, UK, Jan 4, 2011: Plans to build a giant new incinerator in south Wales have been slammed by Friends of the Earth.

The environmental campaign charity warns that building a new incinerator in Merthyr Tydfil will undermine green waste policies, destroy jobs, and saddle local councils with unknown liabilities for decades to come.

American utility giant Covanta submitted proposals on Friday (31 December) for a huge incinerator above the town of Merthyr Tydfil. With a capacity of 750,000 tonnes a year, it would rival the biggest incinerators operating anywhere in the UK.

The application is likely to be one of the first projects to be considered by the new "fast track" planning system, which severely limits the rights of local communities to be involved in the decision-making process.

Friends of the Earth is concerned that the huge size of the incinerator will lead to many councils across Wales and beyond being tied into contracts of 25 years or more to feed it with waste - or face penalties if they do not. This will undermine the drive to reduce waste and increase recycling rates. It may also have an impact on local jobs because recycling provides more jobs than incineration.

There is strong resistance to the incinerator proposal in Merthyr Tydfil, which already suffers some of the worst levels of health, unemployment and deprivation in the UK, and is at risk of becoming a magnet for dirty industries that would not be accepted elsewhere. The proposed incinerator would be sited next to the biggest opencast coal pit in the UK.

Friends of the Earth's planning campaigner Mike Birkin said: "Plans to build this giant incinerator in Merthyr Tydfil are terrible news for local people and the environment.

"This huge waste plant will need to burn thousands of tonnes of valuable resources every year to make it cost-effective, and this will completely undermine efforts to cut waste and boost recycling.

"And because incineration creates far fewer jobs than recycling it would have an impact on local employment too.

"The Government mustn't allow the new fast-track planning systems to dump this waste incinerator on the people of Merthyr.

Source: Friends of the Earth

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