NEWS came in recently that Eric Pickles had given the go-ahead for the controversial Hartlebury incinerator.

Local people, Peter Luff and WAIL fought a good fight, played by all the rules, and got stitched up by vested interests.

There is a salutary lesson here in the faultline of democracy. The other lesson is that our county planning committee, like the council leaders, clearly fail to grasp the enormity and consequences of the decision they made when they were ‘minded’ to approve it.

‘Minded’ is an interesting word because it implies that they engaged in some kind of thought process when coming to a conclusion that spending up to £1 billion of local taxpayers’ money, building in the green belt, entering into a PFI deal and kissing goodbye to recycling in the county was in some way an intelligent decision.

Intelligent it is not, especially if you consider the following facts: n Current incineration overcapacity in the Midlands, more heavy vehicles on our roads as waste is transported, Mercia Waste ‘owning’ our refuse and able to ‘fine’ the council for not providing enough to burn.

  • The rising value of recyclates which we won’t benefit from because of the terms of the Mercia Waste contract.
  • Toxic particles released into the air.
  • The risk from toxic residues being transported out of the plant for further processing.

Noting that 68 per cent of all waste collected by our councils is bio-degradable and 25 per cent of the waste is food, it is actually possible to separate waste and process it in a cleaner, greener way and create more jobs than any incinerator would.

However, these same ‘minded’ councillors decreed that things like food waste collections were not practicable. This despite separation, collection and processing using things like anaerobic digestion significantly reducing landfill and being far better than incineration.

Yet, for our council, this is not practicable despite it already successfully happening with many other more enlightened councils across the country.

Ultimately, it implies that the terrible terms they have negotiated in the contracts are actually more important to them than doing the right thing for our environment or for local taxpayers.

So yes, ‘minded’ is an interesting word to use, an oxymoron if you like, although the latter part of the word carries greater significance in the context of the decision to approve the incinerator.

STEPHEN BROWN Wyre Forest Green Party Feathers Court Stourport