Having read the very interesting article in the Citizen where Mike Wilkinson went off to Denmark to see their Incinerators as well as listening to more of the argument from both sides, I still find that my own opinion has not been swayed much from my thoughts after the Consultations. The major facts stay the same, we need to deal with our waste, landfill is just not good enough, and not just for the Landfill Tax reasons. We are not dealing with the real issue of the waste, we are just setting it aside for someone else to sort out. We need a comprehensive waste management process that is effective at recycling what we can and dealing with what can not be recycles in the most efficient way possible. But the location for this Incinerator is just plain wrong!
The County Council has not thought about the whole process, from the point that waste is discarded from the household (or even before that) to the point they have dealt with it. They talk about higher recycling rates yet they have no influence over it because that is City and Borough councils responsibility and I would love to think that these erstwhile institutions talk to each other, but the fact is that they don’t, or at least in a meaningful way! If they did, and approached it from a Systems perspective, then they would realise that making promises on things that you don;t control is not recommended, but would also lead to the idea about bring the whole of waste collection and disposal under one roof would give them much more ability to save money, time and effort.
Gloucester City should be up in arms about the location. For a City that is trying to grow its Tourism trade, this is the first thing visitors will see when coming up from the South West – Is that really the gateway to Gloucester we want? Don’t get me wrong, I quite like the design and engineering thinking that has gone into the building itself, but when you look at the developers own pictures of how it will be sited in the local area, well it’s not the best enticement to the city I have seen.
One of my biggest concerns is the traffic caused by this. While I appreciate the two arguments used, 1. That there will be no extra vehicles and 2 that the capacity of J12 will easily cope with the vehicles, they are both misleading in their accuracy. Yes there will be no extra vehicles on the road network. But this makes you think that the traffic flow distribution is even across the network, where it isn’t, it all concentrates around Hempstead as a hub and the main routes to get there. Moving to Javelin Park will make that the Hub, and that is a B Road with a puny roundabout at the entrance. This links to the second argument, yes J 12 can deal with a good amount of traffic on it, as it does on a daily basis, but the majority of that traffic is Gloucester Traffic. Only a minute amount (in comparison) goes onto the Stonehouse Road so that small B road is going to get overwhelmed. This means that at some point in the next 5 years, the County Council will have to repair and upgrade that piece of road to cope with the HVGs.
We have to be realistic, an Incinerator is needed, it is really the only solution at the end of any process for residual waste. But I really wish that the County Council had listened about doing pre-sorting before burning. Even Richard Graham MP thought they should be doing that when he had an open meeting in Quedgeley. If we are really serious about minimising waste and recycling then this seems an essential step.
We can put other processes in too such as MBT which improves efficiency, but the County Council had one objective – to get the cheapest, simplest solution to the waste problem and that is what we will get. I have said before, having evaluated the actual process in the proposed plant, its pretty good given the remit, my biggest issues are with the County Council – their simplistic way of solving the problem is going to cost us heavily in the long term!