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£200m incinerator 'will have impact across Cambridgeshire'

By Ben Comber

Amey waste treatment facility
Amey waste treatment facility

Villages beyond Waterbeach should be made aware of plans for an energy from waste facility, residents say.

Amey Waterbeach energy from waste graphic
Amey Waterbeach energy from waste graphic

We would be up to our knees in rubbish if the UK was not making moves to cut back on how much waste goes to landfill, an Environment Agency representative told South Cambridgeshire residents.

The statement came as the chance to comment on plans for an energy-from-waste facility in Waterbeach draws to a close on May 29.

Amey, which runs the Waterbeach waste management plant, is proposing the £200million incinerator, which would divert waste from landfill, burning it to make energy.

The Environment Agency and Cambridgeshire County Council, which is the planning authority for Amey’s application, held a drop-in session in Landbeach last week. Residents said villagers from much further afield should be be paying more attention to the plans.

“It impacts East Cambs a lot more than Waterbeach and Landbeach,” said Alan Mustill, a resident of Haddenham, “and they don’t know about it.”

Another resident of Histon said he had struggled to find details about the consultations held to inform residents.

Those who did attend voiced their concerns about what materials would be emitted from the facility’s 80-metre chimney stack.

The chimney needs to be that height, they were told, to ensure anything harmful is emitted high enough to disperse and be scattered far away.

“Everything that we can’t recycle will come out of the chimney and rain on the agriculture growing our food,” Mr Mustill continued.

“We’re going backwards. It’s shameful really that somewhere like Cambridge, at the forefront of tech, is contemplating something like this.”

An Environment Agency representative told residents “we haven’t got enough space left in the country to landfill more waste”.

The Environmental Agency is legally obliged to issue a permit for the facility if the design meets “environmental standards”, despite any local opposition.

Waste could also continue to be landfilled, however, even if the permit is granted if such a “business decision” is made by the operator.

A spokesperson said: “The Environment Agency is an independent regulatory body, and as such we are unable to have any view on the proposed activities.

“Our role, requires us, when we receive an environmental permit, to determine whether to grant it based on the information provided within the application. If a permit is granted we then regulate the activities detailed within it.

“The plant must meet, or go beyond, best available techniques and emission standards, and human health and the environment must be protected. Different waste disposal options all pose challenges, however they all require a business to prove that their proposal meets all the legal requirements, including environmental, technological and health requirements.”

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