Wanted: 100,000 to sign incineration tax petition

Great Blakenham incinerator. Picture: MIKE PAGE

Great Blakenham incinerator near Ipswich opened in December 2014. Picture: MIKE PAGE - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting the Wisbech incinerator plans have launched a petition calling for incineration to be taxed in a similar way to landfill.

The petition is now live on Change.org and there are hopes to secure over 100,000 signatures by the autumn to trigger a parliamentary debate on the issue.

Over 400 people have already signed the online petition which was set up by Wisbech Without Incineration (WisWIN).

Among them include Baroness Jenny Jones and Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and former leader of the Green Party.

Change.org incineration tax petition

Screenshot of the Change.org petition launched calling for incineration to be taxed like landfill. - Credit: Change.org

Landfill tax is currently £94.15 per tonne of waste sent to landfill.

It is considered one of the more successful environmental taxes - both in terms of diverting waste from landfill and in reducing waste emissions - as landfill emissions have fallen by 77pc since 1990.

But campaigners backing the Change.org petition argue a similar tax does not exist when it comes to burning waste in incinerators.

The petition argues: “This loophole has given an incentive to big business and investors to take advantage and profit from what should be a community-based waste strategy.

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“Communities are also forced to spend time and money fighting these multi-nationals with campaigns, petitions, demonstrations, professional consultants and judicial reviews.”

It added: “Dumping rubbish in landfill is taxed at £94 a tonne.

“If incineration is taxed at a similar rate, there would be a huge incentive for local communities to efficiently process waste and benefit from local schemes such as composting."

It would also be a "disincentive for the imposition of yet more incinerators which reduce recycling initiatives.

“Why redirect waste to incineration simply because of the zero tax when materials could and should be recycled?”

Wisbech Without Incineration Protest

Before the pandemic, some 80 protestors turned up in the industrial area of Wisbech to continue a protest opposed to an ‘energy from waste’ incinerator. Members of Wisbech Without Incineration say they were targeting local companies they feel may support the project. Picture; KIM TAYLOR - Credit: Archant

One Peterborough councillor has admitted to WisWIN that incinerators remove incentives for councils to promote re-use and recycling.

The councillor, who campaigners have not named, said: “... [this] has implications for government and councils trying to achieve stretching climate change targets.

“In Peterborough, when the incinerator was first commissioned in 2008, the council set a target of reaching at least 65pc recycling and composting by 2020: that target has been missed by a massive margin. The latest figure I saw was 40pc.”

WisWIN aims to reach its target of 100,000 signatures by sharing the petition with other anti-incinerator groups, parliamentarians, councillors and other environmental groups.

Subject to Covid, it also hopes residents in Wisbech and members of other anti-incinerator groups will travel to London for the debate.

Campaigners outside the Rosmini Centre on the opening day of MVV Environment's exhibition into the p

Campaigners outside the Rosmini Centre on the opening day of MVV Environment's exhibition into the proposed incinerator for Wisbech in autumn 2020. - Credit: Archant

“We will naturally take our banners too,” said Virginia Bucknor, who is co-ordinating WisWIN’s efforts.

The trip will also take place before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this November.

The United Kingdom Without Incineration Network claims 69 incinerators are currently in operation or under construction across the country. Around 100 are being proposed.

MVV Environment, the company behind the Wisbech incinerator proposals, wants to build an energy from waste combined heat and power facility in Algores Way.

The project is being called the Medworth Energy from Waste Combined Heat and Power Facility.

The company says two non-statutory public consultations were carried out last year; one of which was held during the first coronavirus lockdown.

Paul Carey, managing director of MVV Environment the company behind plans to build a mega incinerato

Paul Carey, managing director of MVV Environment the company behind plans to build a mega incinerator in Wisbech. Pictures: Ian Carter - Credit: Archant

A statutory consultation is due to take place this spring before MVV finalises its planning application in autumn 2021.

The £300m incinerator is said to create 40 jobs and make electricity by burning non-recycled waste that would otherwise go to landfill.

Its chimney would likely be around 95 metres high – while the spire of Ely Cathedral is 66 metres.

Ultimately the decision on whether or not the incinerator is approved for construction will be taken by the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.

What the incinerator site in Wisbech would look like. Picture: SUBMITTED/ STEVE BARCLAY MP

What the incinerator site in Wisbech would look like. Picture: SUBMITTED/ STEVE BARCLAY MP - Credit: Archant

Alok Sharma MP currently holds this position, and he is also president of this year’s climate change conference.

Wisbech Town Council  has set aside £35,000 of its own funds to fight the Wisbech incinerator plans.

It has agreed £5,000 will go towards publicity activities and an “ear-marked reserve” of £30,000 will be available to pay for specialist advice if needed to challenge the planning application.