Grave reservations over Waterbeach incinerator plan as Amey Cespa has ‘breached environmental permits at other sites across the country’

PUBLISHED: 15:40 11 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:40 11 July 2018

Grave reservations over Waterbeach incinerator plan

Grave reservations over Waterbeach incinerator plan

Archant

There are “grave reservations” about a planned new waste incinerator after it emerged the company hoping to build and run it has breached environmental permits at other sites across the country.

An artist impression of the proposed waste incinerator facility in Waterbeach.An artist impression of the proposed waste incinerator facility in Waterbeach.

There are “grave reservations” about a planned new waste incinerator after it emerged the company hoping to build and run it has breached environmental permits at other sites across the country.

Local campaign group, CBWIN, (Cambridge Without Incineration), says waste disposal company Amey Cespa, which plans to build an energy-generating incinerator at its A10 Waste Management Park near Waterbeach, has breached its environmental permits at several waste facilities in the UK.

Amey says it has made changes as a result of the breaches, and it works closely with the Environment Agency to adhere to environmental conditions. But CBWIN says the breaches are a “grave concern” given the prospect of an incinerator near Waterbeach.

Jude Sutton of CBWIN said: “Time and again, we are told that incineration can be operated within safe limits, but we have grave reservations about Amey Cespa’s ability to manage such a facility well.

“Their record locally is not a good one and now we have evidence that shows an alarming number of permit breaches at their other plants. These are extremely serious breaches, with potentially profound health impacts on the local population.

“How can a company with such a terrible reputation across a number of business sectors and incinerator permit compliance failures be trusted?”

A spokeswoman for Amey said the company works closely with the Environment Agency to make sure it is informed of “certain operational events”.

She said the company has addressed all the EA’s issues “to their satisfaction” and were considered a “competent operator”.

The spokeswoman said: “The waste industry is highly regulated and we take our compliance obligations with our environmental permits very seriously.

“We work closely with the Environment Agency (EA) to ensure all our sites adhere to the necessary requirements. Our environmental permit, regulated by the Environment Agency requires Amey (like all operators) to notify them of certain operational events, as laid out in the permit.

“We did this and have addressed all the issues identified to their satisfaction. Therefore, the Environment Agency continues to consider us as a competent operator. We are committed to minimising the impact of our activities on local people and the environment.”

The spokeswoman acknowledged there had been breaches, including three at a facility in Milton Keynes, but that the company had “reviewed and updated” its systems as a result. She said other breaches, including a carbon monoxide breach at its site in Knaresborough, have also been “rectified”.

The spokeswoman said the technology Amey intends to install at Waterbeach is “proven” and in existing use in the UK and Europe. The UK already has around 40 operational energy from waste facilities all being monitored by the Environment Agency.

She said the facility would export around 24 megawatts of decentralised energy, about half of which would be renewable.

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokeswoman said given the “high level of interest locally” in the incinerator, the application, which had been due to be discussed by Cambridgeshire County Council on July 19, will now be delayed until later this year.

The spokeswoman said: “As a planning authority, we grant approval or refusal on planning applications submitted to us based on clear material planning reasons in accordance with the local adopted development plan and government guidance.

“As part of the planning process, all residents have had the opportunity to make comments and submit a response to this planning application.

“These comments will all be considered, reviewed and summarised in the officer report which will be put to the planning committee to help them with the decision making process. Taking into account the high level of interest locally in this planning application, the officer’s report is not due to be considered by planning committee until mid-September at the earliest.

“If planning permission is granted for an energy from waste facility, any applicant will still need to apply for an environmental permit to run the facility from the Environment Agency and will be subject to a further period where statutory consultees, interested parties, and local residents can put forward their views on environmental grounds.

“Unlike the planning process the Environment Agency can take into account operator performance.”

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