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Petition raises health concerns against waste incinerator plan

Gareth Wright centre with residents looking at a map of the potentail changes to Waterbeach . Picture: Keith Heppell
Gareth Wright centre with residents looking at a map of the potentail changes to Waterbeach . Picture: Keith Heppell

More than 600 people have spoken against plans to build a waste incinerator, along with an 80-metre chimney stack, at a recycling plant in Waterbeach.

They have signed a petition addressed to the county and district authorities demanding planning permission for the structures be refused.

Amey submitted plans for the new buildings, which would cost £200million, in December 2017.

Gemma Bradford lives in Waterbeach with her three children, aged three, nine and 11. She is worried for their health, but also for the health of the hundreds of children who will live in the planned Waterbeach new town, much closer to the incinerator.

She said: “My main concern is the particulates. I’ve got children, and one of them is asthmatic. I’m not a scientist but I know that they have been known to contain carcinogens and people are going to be living next door to it.

“Other people have concerns about the look of it – it’s an 80-metre chimney, which is taller than Ely Cathedral.

“There’s a similar chimney in Newhaven, Sussex, that locals call ‘the puffing snail’.

“We don’t want it on anyone’s doorstep. Children on the new estate will be right next to it and people who are going to live there do not have the chance right now to stop it being built.

“We would get some of the fumes but the people who are going to live next to it are going to have it worse.”

A public meeting has been called for Monday, January 29.

The proposal from Amey is for a new facility designed to handle up to 250,000 tonnes of household and commercial waste per year. It says that 80 per cent of residual waste which goes to landfill at Waterbeach could be used to create energy through the incinerator. It also says there would be 300 extra jobs created from construction and operation.

Cllr Ingrid Tregoing, the South Cambridgeshire district councillor for Waterbeach, said: “Residents of Waterbeach, Landbeach and Chittering have legitimate concerns about this energy from waste proposal. People feel it will blight the landscape, present health risks to animals and people, and contaminate crops.”

She said there are also proposals to relocate the Cambridge sewage works to the village. Anglian Water, the county and district councils said it was unaware of any such plans.

Gareth Wright, who is Labour’s candidate for Waterbeach in this year’s district council elections, said he has noticed a drop in the mood of residents while canvassing.

He said: “There’s so much happening in Waterbeach at the moment that people are overwhelmed. We live in the fens, it’s very flat. A big chimney here is going to stick out.”

A spokesperson for Amey said: “Although we recognise the concerns of the local community, we can reassure people that the new facility would not pose any dangers to health.

“Our facility would contain state-of-the-art, proven technology and would be strictly monitored by the Environment Agency. Similar facilities currently operate throughout Europe and the UK.

“If approved, the new Waterbeach facility would have significant environmental benefits, by allowing us to reduce the volume of waste being landfilled, as well as creating enough electricity to power the equivalent of 63,000 homes.

“Prior to submitting our planning application to the council, we conducted a number of public exhibitions where we shared our plans with the local community. During these exhibitions the vast majority of feedback was positive.

“We welcome the views of the local community and would encourage people to provide feedback as the public consultation is ongoing until February 6.”

The Health and Protection Agency has assessed the impact of public health from municipal waste incinerators. It concluded that “while it is not possible to rule out adverse health effects from modern, well-regulated municipal waste incinerators with complete certainty, any potential damage to the health of those living close-by is likely to be very small, if detectable.

“Any potential risk of cancer due to residency near to municipal waste incinerators is exceedingly low and probably not measurable by the most modern techniques.”

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “Public consultation on this planning application has been running from January 2, 2018, and was due to run for the statutory 21 days. However, noting additional queries raised by local residents, we have extended the deadline to February 6, 2018.”

They said the petition will be added to the public planning application folder and will be considered alongside all other responses submitted by statutory consultees and members of the public by the planning officer before a recommendation is given to the planning committee.

Members of the planning committee will review and give the concerns their full consideration before deciding whether to grant planning permission or not.

More information can be found at wasteservices.amey.co.uk/where-we-work/cambridgeshire/our-energy-from-waste-proposal/about-our-proposal.

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