Councillor claims a possible waste to energy incinerator plant at Brynsworthy might not have enough rubbish to keep it going...

Question marks remain over the possibility of a waste incinerator plant in Barnstaple.

Devon County Council has officially signed off its Waste Plan, which earmarks Brynsworthy as a potential site for an ‘energy recovery’ facility.

The council says its plan is only a framework of policies and site proposals, and ‘energy recovery’ could mean anything from anaerobic digestion to incineration.

Councillor Rodney Cann, North Devon Council’s executive member for the environment, said the decision was ‘a victory for commonsense’ after original proposals had placed the facility on the A39 close to Roundswell.

But he said he would question whether to have a waste to energy plant in North Devon at all.

“Even with Torridge, we don’t generate enough waste to keep one of these plants going under the current technologies,” he said.

“Will they import rubbish into North Devon or will we have to drive ours miles to the next nearest site? Another option is with new technology smaller plants might be practical in the future.”

The plan is a blueprint for waste management in Devon over the next 16 years as it sets out measures to try and reduce rubbish sent to landfill to five per cent.

‘Limited life-span’ for Deepmoor

Mr Cann said Deepmoor landfill had a very limited lifespan. A DCC spokesman told the Gazette the Deepmoor site was licensed until 2018, but a planning application was in to extend it to 2030.

The council disagreed with Mr Cann, saying an Exeter University study showed that an energy recovery facility of 23,000 tonnes – less than the waste produced by North Devon and Torridge – could be viable.

Planning for future

“The waste plan is clear that technologies, including energy from waste, will cater for the majority of residual household and business waste after recycling, but not all of the sites earmarked for energy recovery will necessarily be needed in the next 16 years,” said the spokesman.

“The number of sites identified in the plan that will be needed in future will partly depend on whether sites that already have permission are actually delivered.

“While the Waste Plan seeks to maximise recycling and to achieve energy recovery from the remaining residual waste, some further landfill capacity may be required, and the plan commits the county council to monitoring remaining capacity and planning for future needs.”