Barnstaple incinerator plans on the back-burner

PLANS for a controversial energy-from-waste plant in Barnstaple look set to be put on the back-burner indefinitely, a Devon County Council report has revealed. The �39.3 million rubbish-burner project is to be shelved due to set-backs to other planned dev

PLANS for a controversial energy-from-waste plant in Barnstaple look set to be put on the back-burner indefinitely, a Devon County Council report has revealed.

The �39.3 million rubbish-burner project is to be shelved due to set-backs to other planned developments at Seven Brethren, as well as questions surrounding the size of the plant.

A planning application for the county council and North Devon Council partnership project was originally expected by the end of this year but a report by the county council's Executive Director of Environment, Economy and Culture - due to be heard at a Cabinet meeting yesterday (Tuesday) - said it was not "prudent" to progress with an application or permit. It recommends the proposal be sidelined pending progress on other projects at Seven Brethren, waste tonnage levels, and newer emerging technologies.

Before yesterday's meeting, Barnstaple area county Cllr Brian Greenslade insisted the scheme was being delayed rather than abandoned.


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"The case for producing energy from waste rather than going to landfill still exists as the Deepmoor landfill site fills up. Given the circumstances brought about by the non-relocation of the college means it is right to rethink the scheme while the future of projects at Seven Brethren is clarified."

The 50,000 to 60,000-tonne incinerator, the subject of two public exhibitions this year, has received a mixed reaction from people in the town. Those in favour said it would help Devon to meet landfill reduction targets, while members of campaign group DRAIN (Devon Residents Against Incineration) said the plant would produce toxic and carbon emissions and damage recycling efforts.

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Forecasters said the incinerator would burn more than 90 per cent of the household rubbish in North Devon and Torridge (around 50,000 tonnes). The energy generated would supply heat and electricity to nearby buildings, including the new North Devon College, a new Tesco supermarket and re-furbished leisure centre.

Around a quarter of the energy produced would have powered the new college, a project that also looks in doubt following the Learning and Skills Council's announcement in June that the �90m funding for the move would no longer be available.

Furthermore, a new study into North Devon and Torridge waste levels has suggested that a 35,000 to 45,000 tonne capacity plant would suit the area better.

DRAIN spokesperson Peter Hames, said the group was "delighted" with the news.

"As a group we're extremely pleased and we can now go back to the drawing board and re-open the whole discussion about the alternatives such as intensifying the recycling effort," he said.

"Devon has a good record for recycling but we can all recycle to a much greater extent by improving sorting systems, linking up with employers and by giving people more opportunities to recycle in the home."

But Cllr Rodney Cann said the decision to shelve the proposal left North Devon "out on a limb".

"This is a major shock as it provides no long term plan for waste disposal in North Devon or a land fill site with a limited life.

"I accept that the waste-to-energy plant is not the perfect solution but failing to provide a viable alternative could be very short-sighted of the council.

"Once again we appear to be the poor relation missing out to the rest of Devon. Deepmoor has a limited life and capacity and there are no alternatives in the north of the county; we run the risk of having to transport waste considerable distances maybe as far as Exeter."

Green Party spokesman Ricky Knight welcomed the news saying: "It would have been an environmental catastrophe.

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