A coalition of residents’ groups, elected representatives, other organisations and individuals, who are dedicated to protecting people* in the Loughborough and Shepshed area from the harmful effects of airborne toxins from traffic, quarrying and especially the poisonous gas and nano-particle emissions from the giant waste incinerator proposed by Biffa, Covanta and the Green Investment Group, at junction 23 of the M1 at Loughborough. 

 *Including those in vulnerable groups - babies, children, young people, pregnant women, the elderly and people engaged in outdoor sporting and exercise activities.

Thank-you! Over 65 people have sent comments to the Environment Agency objecting to Biffa's application for a revised Environmental Permit for the incinerator at M1 Jcn 23

Sign our petition on change.org

Stop the Newhurst incinerator project - save Loughborough’s people from harmful emissions

Over 800 people have signed - help us get to 1000 signatories - thank-you

Architect's impression of the Biffa/Covanta Incinerator seen from M1 Jcn 23 roundabout - Source Biffa/SLR

Architect's impression of the Biffa/Covanta Incinerator seen from Garendon ParkSource Biffa/SLR

The Incinerator and its flue will dominate the skyline for miles around

What are Incinerator Emissions?

Incinerator flue emissions  contain in high levels of greenhouse gases. For every tonne of waste burned, typically more than one tonne of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. This means that incineration has a higher carbon intensity than the conventional use of fossil fuels, and significantly higher than what most people would consider ‘low carbon’. In addition to greenhouse gas emissions incinerators (including gasification and pyrolysis plants) emit many toxins and pollutants, giving rise to public health concerns. Although incinerator fumes pass through expensive filter systems, modern incinerators still emit significant levels of dioxins, Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and nano-particles that can be harmful to both human health and the natural environment.

A well-respected study (Mao, et al. 2007) found that the concentrations of nano-particles (PM2.5 and PM10) in a study area located downwind of a waste incinerator were significantly higher (between 220% and 700% higher) than the study area upwind of the incinerator. The study indicated that the air had “significant contamination by air pollutants emitted” from a waste incinerator, representing a public health problem for nearby residents, despite the facility being equipped with a modern air pollution control system.


In addition to flue gases, there are two kinds of ash generated by an incinerator: the bottom ash (about 90 percent of the ash), which falls through the grate system at the base of the furnace, and the fly ash—the very fine material entrained in the flue gas. Ideally, this fly ash is captured in the boilers, the heat exchangers, and the air pollution control devices; however, inevitably a small fraction escapes into the atmosphere. As far as toxic metals are concerned, it is a chemical truism to state that the better the air pollution control the more toxic the fly ash becomes. The bottom ash is also toxic and is typically sent to land-fill.

Some Scientific Facts

Particulate matter is everything in the air that isn’t a gas, a suspension of particles which are solid, liquid or somewhere in between. It can come from natural sources such as pollen, sea spray and desert dust, and human made sources suchas smoke from fires, soot from vehicle exhausts, dust from tyres and brakes, as well as emissions from industry. Particles emitted directly from these sources are called primary PM. Secondary PM is formed in the atmosphere through chemical reactions between other air pollutant gases such as nitrogen oxides (NOX), ammonia (NH3) andsulphur dioxide (SO2). Particulates are classified according to size, either as PM10 (particles of ≤10µm (micrometres) diameter) or PM2.5 (particles of ≤2.5µm diameter particles which are 200 times smaller than a grain of sand). The distinction between PM and the other air pollutants considered here is somewhat artificial. PM is not a single pollutant; it is made up from a huge variety of chemical compounds and materials. Both PM and the gases that can form it travel large distances, so impacts may occur far from the original source. Around 15% of UK PM comes from naturally occurring sources, up to a third from other  European countries and around half from UK human-made sources. HM Government has an aim to reduce emissions of PM2.5 against the 2005 baseline by 30% by 2020, and 46% by 2030

The Harm to Human Health

The harm to Human Health arising from waste incineration is a contentious subject for many reasons (complexity, uncertainty, vested interests, the nature of the ‘scientific method’, difficulties ‘proving’ causal relationships, ‘confounding factors’ including other sources of pollution, etc.)

However, there is an increasing body of evidence and expert scientific opinion that primary particulate matter (PM) a.k.a nano-particles cannot be effectively filtered from waste-incinerator emissions. The filters would need to be so fine that they would stop the flue from working!

Focussing on the harm to human health caused by PM, especially PM2.5 - these tiny particles can  get into the lungs and blood and be transported around the body, lodging in the heart, brain and other organs. PM affects health in two ways: by being toxic or by providing a surface for transporting toxic compounds to where they can do harm. PM can have short-term health impacts over a single day when concentrations are elevated, and long-term impacts from lower-level exposure over the lifecourse. Effects are amplified in vulnerable groups including young children, the elderly, and those suffering from breathing problems like asthma. 

Experts in the effects of nano-particles on human health have advised that people who are training/exercising/playing-sport outdoors (especially at high intensity) are at much greater risk that the general population because they breathe-in larger volumes of polluted air.

The Department of Health and Social Care’s independent Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) quantified the longterm impacts of UK PM concentrations in terms of mortality as equivalent to 340,000 life years lost!

The Threat to People of Loughborough

Prevailing winds will carry emissions to sensitive places – in an arc S.E to N.W - from the Biffa/Covanta Incinerator

Outdoor sportsmen/womenOutdoor
Place at RiskPeople at riskApprox.
Distance km
Longcliffe Golf ClubOutdoor sportsmen/women1.1
Longcliffe Nursing  HomeElderly people1.8
Nanpantan Pre-schoolChildren at play outdoors2.0
Nanpantan ScoutsChildren at play outdoors2.1
Watermead NurseryChildren at play outdoors2.2
Nanpantan Sports Fields
- Football, Cricket
Outdoor sportsmen/women2.2
Brush Bowls ClubOutdoor sportsmen/women
Loughborough Tennis ClubOutdoor sportsmen/women2.2
Loughborough University
– Holywell Pitches
Outdoor sportsmen/women2.3
Holywell Primary SchoolChildren at play outdoors2.5
Charnwood CollegeChildren at play outdoors2.5
Booth Wood Primary SchoolChildren at play outdoors2.5
Ashby Ward - CharnwoodResidents2.5
Nanpantan Ward - CharnwoodResidents2.8
Loughborough University
– Cricket Ground
Open-air sportsmen/women3.0
Loughborough University
– All-weather Pitches
Open-air sportsmen/women3.0
Loughborough University
– Athletics Track
Open-air sportsmen/women3.0
Mountfields Primary SchoolChildren at play outdoors3.9
Loughborough HospitalInfirm people3.7
Thorpe Acre
– Sheltered Housing etc
Elderly people3.9
Planned Garendon Park SUEResidents1.0 - 1.5
Planned Science & Enterprise ParksEmployees1.5 - 2.0
DNRC Stanford HallInfirm people9

This is a working list – to be revised as more information is acquired. Version 1.0

Join-up and support your community

What the major organisations say...

Waste incineration presents a very real threat to human health for those communities exposed to flue fallout and therefore very likely presents an infringement of Article 2 of the 1998 Human Rights Act and the European Convention.  Epidemiological evidence in support of this is now substantial and it would be difficult to see how such claims could be judged to be unreasonable. 

"... heed should be paid to research supporting known health hazards not currently legislated against"

Air pollution is an invisible but dangerous threat to children’s health. Toxic emissions candamage children’s growth and leave them with lasting health problems. This not only violates a child’s right to health, but also their future. It could impact their right to education, their right to play and ultimately, their right to life. At least 1 in 3 babies are growing up in areas of the UK with unsafe levels of particulate matter, the most dangerous pollutant for our health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 70% of towns and cities in the UK have unsafe levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). This refers to tiny particles of
pollution in the air that have a diameter less than 2.5 µm, smaller than the width of a human hair.
These tiny particles are the most dangerous for our health as they’re able to penetrate deep into our lungs, and potentially even into our bloodstream and our brains. For babies
and young children, these health effects are even more acute. 

Exposure to toxic particulates during these critical early stages of development can leave a child with stunted lungs, with respiratory conditions like asthma and reduced brain development. 

All the lessons we have learned over the years about the dangers from incineration have been quietly disregarded and plans are being drawn up to use poor-quality combustion facilities to burn waste rather than using the safest incinerators (and I take this to mean incinerators with built-in vitrification units).  
Attempts by the government and Environment Agency to assure people that there are no health effects from incinerators fly in the face of all the available evidence. Incinerators are adding to toxicity to our air, our land and, over time, to our water tables. This is neglecting our responsibilities to the public and to future generations. 
The Environment Agency is here to protect the environment and to protect our health from environmental hazards. Most people would expect them to be actively taking steps to improve the worsening air quality, given the well-recognised dangers of particulate pollution. Few will understand why they are allowing so many incinerators to be built, why they are not prohibiting their use in areas where air pollution is already high and why they are not using the safest and very best methods of incineration that are now available. 

Royal College of Physicians Report

Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution

Particles in the air are a complex mix of materials. The health effects covered by this report mostly relate to particles that are generated by human activity (‘anthropogenic’ particles), either directly or by chemical reactions in the air. However, some natural dusts (eg soil and
sand particles) may also be small enough to be breathed into the lungs. Particle concentrations are usually expressed as mass (micrograms; g) per cubic metre of air (m3). Historically, concentrations of particulate matter (PM) were determined
optically by measuring the ‘blackness’ of a filter after air had been drawn through it. This measurement was called black smoke and is practically the same as the black carbon measurement, as this is the part of PM that most strongly absorbs light. Black carbon is created by the incomplete combustion of fuels and is a major part of soot – for example diesel soot. Besides elemental carbon it contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
The ‘black smoke’ metric has been largely replaced by metrics of PM based on the aerodynamic diameter of the particles. Thus PM10 is the amount of particulate matter that is generally less than 10 µm in diameter. PM2.5 is the smaller fraction of PM10 and consists of particles <2.5 µm across (often referred to as‘fine’ particles). Coarse PM is the difference between PM10 and PM2.5. Ultra-fine particles are the smallest fractions of PM2.5 and are <0.1 µm (100 nm) in diameter. Differentiation of PM into fractions of different sizes is very relevant for health studies because fractions of <10 millionths of a metre (10 µm) in diameter tend not to be filtered out by the nose, and are able to penetrate down into the lungs. In contrast, very small particles (nanoparticles), which range in size from 0.1 to 0.001 µm, are so small that they can pass into the circulation. The surface area:volume ratio of particles increases exponentially as particles become smaller and smaller. PM consists of carbon, ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulphate, oxides and salts of many metals, and organic materials including rather large and complex molecules and fragments of soil. The composition
of the PM mixture varies from place to place. Near to roads, emissions from vehicles form the majority of PM, whereas in rural areas there is an increased amount of PM produced by chemical reactions in the air including nitrates and sulphates.

Another way of describing PM is by origin. Primary particles are those that are emitted directly to the air. These include particles emitted during fossil fuel combustion, brake and tyre wear, and road dust re-suspended by vehicles. Secondary particles are particles formed by atmospheric processes. These include ammonium nitrate and sulphate. The origins (precursors) of secondary particles include nitrogen dioxide,
sulphur dioxide, ammonia and volatile organic compounds.

See what the experts say


"If there is one way of quickly extinguishing the value in a material, it is to stick it in an incinerator and burn it. It may give you energy out at the end of the day, but some of those materials, even if they are plastics, with a little ingenuity, can be given more positive value. One thing that worries me is that we are taking these materials, we are putting them in incinerators, we are losing them forever and we are creating carbon dioxide out of them, which is not a great thing…I think that incineration is not a good direction to go in."
Professor Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (January 2018).
Oral Evidence: The Work of Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser, HC 775

“It is a fact that waste incinerators produce a plume of very tiny particles. The placing of a waste incinerator in a busy inhabited area is certain, in my opinion, to have a big local impact on particle pollution. There is no debate that particle pollution shortens average life span and currently is estimated to cause 40,000 premature deaths per year in the UK.

“It is widely recognised that there is no detectable safe level of exposure to fine particles.”
Professor Vyvyan Howard, Professor of Bioimaging at the University of Ulster (October 2016)

Links to other groups opposing incineration

The United Kingdom Without Incineration Network opposes the incineration of waste, including via gasification, pyrolysis and cement kilns. Incineration depresses recycling (see our evidence), destroys valuable resources, releases greenhouse gasses, and is a waste of money. Incineration has no place in the zero waste closed-loop circular economy we should be working towards.

Press Release 06/11/18

BACI (Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator) has today [06/11/18] received the judgment from the Courts regarding the Judicial Review Claim against the Environment Agency’s issue of an operating permit for Covanta’s Rookery Pit Incinerator.

It is with great disappointment that we must announce that the Judge has ruled in favour of the Environment Agency and has dismissed our claim to quash the Permit...

The BACI Committee met on Thursday 15th November to discuss the possibility of proceeding with a challenge to the High Court Judgement at the Court of Appeals. The Committee unanimously agreed that BACI should take the opportunity to proceed to the Court of Appeals.  This – of course – is dependant on the full and generous support of those who would be affected by Covanta’s plans. The main points that the Committee considered were: both our Barrister and Solicitor have stated that they believe there is merit in moving forward with the case. the judgement contained elements that could be described as contradictory the reliance on actual ‘precedents’ in the judgement was weak – as although 2 Appeals/Supreme Court judgements were cited – one relied on the other as precedent. the main precedent claim in question was judged in 2003.  Our knowledge of the effects of pollution is growing every day – as is the amount of pollution we are subjected to. the situation we find ourselves in is that the money already raised and spend on the High Court Case would effectively be lost unless we build on this opportunity to appeal  – with the added possibility of affecting future cases involving regulators such as the EA i.e creating precedent. the impact of Covanta’s plans will have such a profound and destructive effect on the Marston Vale and surrounds for 35 – 40 years the timings involved in a Court of Appeals case would allow ample time to fundraise for the hearing stage – which we are advised is likely to be as late as the end of 2019.  It was noted that the timings for the first step – which is the permission stage – is very tight. at a recent Global Industrial Conference Covanta stated that the High Court Judicial Review had meant that they had put their plans for finalising the construction contracts and achieving financial close for the project on hold.

Welcome to CBWIN - Cambridge Without Incineration. CBWIN is a group formed by concerned local residents who wish to bring people together and find out the facts surrounding the proposed Cambridge waste incinerator by Amey Cespa, and not just the information given by commercially interested parties.

We intend to provide independent information that is not from waste industry sponsored reports.

We want all locals affected by this plan to be able to make an informed choice, and to ensure that decision makers act on what the public want.

Visit cbwin.co.uk to find quick links to comment on the application itself, non-industry sponsored information and template examples of comments.