Covanta to go up in smoke?

b11-795  Protest against Covanta, Stewartby Village Hall.  JE   wk 27
b11-795 Protest against Covanta, Stewartby Village Hall. JE wk 27

The future of a controversial waste incinerator hangs in the balance after bosses announced their plan to sell the site.

This week US waste firm Covanta revealed it is planning on selling off its UK operations, including Rookery Pit South, near Stewartby.

It has been planning to build a giant incinerator that would burn up to 6,000 tonnes of rubbish a year.

Despite local opposition from planning authorities and residents the plan was given the go ahead by the Infrastructure Planning Commission in 2010.

Bedford Borough Councillor Tim Hill, who represents Stewartby and Elstow and has been against the plan from the start, says he is delighted with the news.

He said: “I have been opposed to this oversized incinerator from the outset, so obviously I am delighted at anything which delays mass-burn incineration being brought to our doorstep.

“Mass-burn incineration is bad for the local community and bad for recycling and the environment, and we are opposed to it. It is difficult to tell exactly what this will mean for the local community in the long term - this is still a site with planning permission, but at the very least we have all gained a temporary reprieve from this incinerator.

“Bedford Borough Council will continue to stand by its commitment not to use incineration, preferring to maximise recovery and recycling, rather than mass-burning resources.”

Covanta only managed to secure one potential customer for its Bedfordshire scheme. It is looking for buyers and partners for its three sites in the UK.

MP for Mid Beds Nadine Dorries, who has been heavily opposed to the incineration plan, told the T&C: “This is a victory for the people. For those who came out and protested, who submitted their complaints and who used the appeal process to its full capacity, creating delay.

“In the interregnum and as a result of the uncertainty, neighbouring authorities pressed ahead with their own arrangement for disposing waste leaving Covanta with no customers to feed their rubbish guzzling, pollution creating monstrosity.

“Given that Central Beds Council have also facilitated their own solution for CBC waste disposal, the future of Rookery pit is now in limbo.

“My suggestion to local people is to come up with their own proposals and suggestions before another developer comes along and we have to begin fighting again.”

The Marston Moreteyne Action Group (MMAG) has also been heavily involved in the fight, leading various protests and petitions.

Hugh Roberts, Chairman of MMAG said “It is a frightful irony that local opposition identified the financial incompetence of the proposal.

“However, the now defunct Infrastructure Planning Commission and the parliamentary authorities saw fit to give permission to a company that never had the money to build what they proposed.

“So much for national experts telling local people what’s good for them! To paraphrase Churchill, this may not be the beginning of the end for debates about Rookery Pit; but for Covanta it’s the end of their beginning in the UK.

“Either way it’s a victory for local people and their MP Nadine Dorries”.