I went back to the Javelin Park site today for the second consultation on the “energy from waste” facilities that are scheduled to be built to deal with all of Gloucestershires waste to reduce the landfill tax that will be imposed from Europe in the near future. What was very clear was that one of the competitors had put a lot of thought and effort into developing their proposal and responding to the comments made at the last event and went to a lot of effort to go through their process and explain each stage. The other competitor, well, less so! What was also very clear was the County Council had not listened at all as they sail their burning ship along.
Why do I say that, well the suppliers have been told to base their capacities assuming that the County Council will achieve 70% recycling. However they also admit that this is a really ambitious target and when you look across Europe, there is only one country that can boast of achieving this target. My big issue here is that if (or as I believe, when) we don’t make this target, where’s does the surplus go to, because the incinerator does not have the capacity to take up the slack should this be the case.
To recap, there are two competitors left, Compete Circle (CC), and Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB). They are close to down select to a single supplier and for me this raised a really interesting dilemma, was I going to pick up facts with which to oppose the idea of an Incinerator (as some of my residents would like) or am I going to determine my most preferable solution in order to encourage the right choice is made on the final selection decision? I decided I could easily do both because I had questions I wanted answers to from both, and that covered my health, community, transport and economic issues, but also I could. Use these questions and my own business knowledge to make a decision about which supplier I would choose.
I went to UBB first, they had a physical model of the proposal which enabled them to talk through the process with ease, and it was really easy to be able to discuss issues around their process and the issues around emissions, by-products and transport issues. They also had a computer ‘fly through’ model of the process and how it sits in the landscape. We talked a lot about the comments of the last consultation and what they did based on them and it was great to see just how much they had taken the issues onboard. The biggest improvement was the process to deal with the ash which will take place inside the facility and be reused directly out of there.
I then went on to CC and the contrast was amazing. They looked like they had not made anywhere near so much effort. Their evaluation of the previous consultation led them to spending a lot of effort the aesthetics of the building and their use of timber and reclaimed brick was very interesting, however the issue behind the actual process and technology had not really improved at all, in particular their solution with the residual ash was to ship it to south Wales and Bristol. When I started to ask questions around analysis and other more difficult questions, they tried to “flannel” me, which I didn’t really appreciate.
For me, the devil is in the detail and this is where UBB were much better, they had gone for high quality solution and they know what they are going to do with every element. Maybe it was the ability to talk with the technical guys and really get inside the systems thinking behind the project. So, on technical solution I would choose the UBB solution. However, this is a decision without seeing any of the finances. But you could say that maybe the cost doesn’t really matter if we are getting the best solution that will be the safest, healthiest. Im not advocating an unlimited budget, but what I hope is that it is a value for money solution that is chosen rather than just the cheapest.
I have a lot more reading to do, the UBB guys gave me a lot of examples of where they have done this in urban areas so I want to read up on their examples. But there are more fundamental questions to answer, and these are from the County Council.
- What are they doing to ensure we get to the 70% recycling target (because in the current format, they wont make it)?
- Why did the Government take back the PFI Credits? Publicise their report.
- What is the modelling for Growth?
- Why did they not engage with the residents properly? What are they going to do about proper Consultation?
- Why did they not publicise the consultations very well? Apparently only 400 people came along to the first one.
No doubt I will have more questions as I read upon the solutions and thankfully the consultation is on for another day, so can go back with extra questions after work tomorrow. If you have not been, go down, get your questions answered and get your facts. Without that, you can’t make a proper decision.
- Second Public Exhibition of the Javelin Park Incinerator Proposals (barrykirby.co.uk)
- Gloucester Incinerator – My thoughts on the final two groups and the process (barrykirby.co.uk)