Monday, September 23, 2002

Letter: Last chance for zero waste?

Last chance for zero waste?

On Monday 23rd September, at 10:00am in Sheffield Town Hall, the Planning Board will meet to consider the application to build a new, bigger incinerator at Bernard Road. But this will be more than just a planning meeting - it will determine our waste management strategy for the next 20 years.

Waste management should be determined by the City Council- 1) Consulting the public, 2) Considering the economic, environmental and health consequences of various options, 3) Drawing up a waste strategy, and 4) Contracting out services.

Sheffield City Council appears to have done this process in reverse. First, the contract was signed with the waste company ONYX. As a private company, ONYX has an over-riding priority to maximise its shareholders profits. A "quick and dirty" means of waste disposal, such as incineration, is therefore very attractive. The waste strategy was only developed afterwards, as part of the planning process for the new incinerator. It is deeply flawed and reflects the commercial priorities of ONYX rather than the needs of Sheffield residents, or our global responsibilities. Options involving high rates of recycling have been ignored and assumptions have been biased in favour of incineration. As for public consultation – well, we are still waiting.

If a new incinerator is built at Bernard Road then Sheffield’s waste strategy will have been determined before any proper evaluation or public consultation has taken place. Friends of the Earth will shortly be publishing a report showing how recycling rates of 80% can be achieved in the short term, and a zero waste approach can be adopted in the future. However, if a new incinerator is built then there will be no hope for this strategy.

The planning meeting is open to the public and offers a rare opportunity for the Sheffield public to makes their voices heard on this issue. Sheffield Friends of the Earth believe that the incinerator proposal should be rejected, at least until full public consultation and evaluation of all the options have been undertaken.

Steve Goodacre

Sheffield Friends of the Earth

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