A coalition of residents’ groups, elected representatives, other organisations and individuals, who are dedicated to protecting people* in Loughborough, Shepshed and Woodhouse Parish from the harmful effects of airborne toxins from traffic, quarrying and especially the CO2, and PM2.5, or smaller, particulate emissions from the giant waste incinerator under construction 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.
We need to maintain a fighting-fund to cover future expenditure. Can you help, please?
If all supporters are able to spare a few pounds this will soon mount-up. Thank-you
If you are able to help please pay directly into the LAQPG Bank Account at HSBC
Account name LAQPG
Sort code 40-30-24
Account Number 04052641
In the event that LAQPG is wound-up, any remaining funds will be shared between 2 local charities - LOROS and Rainbows
There are various opportunities to campaign even when a local incinerator has been built or is under construction, and there is also a role for local communities to play in monitoring the incinerator’s activities.
For example, you can: Log and report incidents of noise, odours, flies, vermin and other nuisance As detailed on UKWIN’s ‘Why Oppose Incineration’ page, those living near waste incinerators complain about having had to deal with problems such as noise, odour, traffic, worsened air quality and light pollution.
Where nuisance incidents occur and problems arise, those living or working nearby can: Contact the Environment Agency to report the incident, asking for an incident number (to be recorded in a personal complaints log) Inform the Council’s Environmental Health Officer Contact the Council’s Planning Enforcement Officer (as there may have been a breach of planning conditions) Contact their local councillor It is highly recommended that residents maintain their own records of any incidents in a log book, which could be useful for future complaints or in legal claims for financial compensation (as you may be able to bring a legal action against the operator if the peaceful enjoyment of your property has been seriously harmed by a statutory nuisance). For odour complaints, you should record the wind direction at the time of the incident to help provide evidence that the incinerator site was the source of the odour.
Keep an eye out for changes to the planning permission and environmental permit, e.g. to enlarge/extend the facility It is not unusual for operators to seek to vary their planning permission and/or their environmental permit to allow them to do things that would not be allowed under their current consents. For example, they might want to enlarge the facility, increase the number of tonnes of material to be processed, loosen restrictions on operating hours and traffic controls, or change to a different form of incineration technology.
You can ask your local Council to confirm whether or not you would be informed of any changes with respect to the planning consent, and you can work with your local Councillors to keep track of any new proposals.
Read the annual incinerator monitoring reports and other information on the EA’s Public Register Incinerator operators are required to submit reports on an annual basis that reflect their activities. These annual monitoring reports are submitted to the Environment Agency, usually in January, and cover the previous calendar year. The reports contain information about emissions released by the incinerator, the number of tonnes of material processed by the incinerator, and details of incidents where the site has not complied with its environmental permit.
You can also access the full set of Incinerator Monitoring Reports from 2017 and and 2018. UKWIN maintains a library of annual incinerator reports and additional documentation held by the Environment Agency which can be accessed via our UK Incinerators webpage. Further information is available from the Environment Agency’s Public Register.
Minimise how much you and others are sending to the incinerator Starve the monster of feedstock, e.g. by campaigning for better recycling and composting services in your area, pushing for more public education about what can and cannot currently be recycled by your Council, supporting local circular economy and zero waste initiatives (including calling for better recycling facilities at your workplace)
Courtesy of PlumePlotter - click the image to go to the live site
Now under construction, the Biffa/Covanta Incinerator and its flue will dominate the skyline for miles around, dramatically and adversely changing the landscape around Loughborough from green woodland to some kind of industrial wasteland. The public can now see for themselves that they have been seriously mislead about the scale of the incinerator! The fiction, as printed in the local press, shows the incinerator as a relatively small building, nestled behind a car park; whereas in reality it is huge!
This is a visual reminder of the emissions-to-air that will be produced
October 2021 (no response received as at April 2022!)
NWRG Writes to the Environment Agency - Climate Change - Requesting Validation of Air Quality Modelling Data
Am I correct in my understanding that the ATMOSPHERIC DISPERSION MODELLING*, undertaken by SLR for Biffa in 2009, remains the the source of data used by the EA when granting the EPR TP3036KB.V004.Issued170519
The reason I ask is that, as we all know, climate change has had a significant impact on weather, including wind patterns and the SLR model is based on pre-2009 data, including 2004 to 2008 wind-rose data.
My questions therefore are...
1. How confident is the EA that the 2009 ATMOSPHERIC DISPERSION MODELLING* remains valid?
2. Should the ATMOSPHERIC DISPERSION MODELLING be re-run using current wind-pattern data?
3. What plans does the EA have to require Biffa to validate the modelled ground-level [pollutant] concentrations at the (75) human receptor sites once the incinerator is operational?
*As used to support the Air Quality Risk Assessment (V1 May 2018) - I have not seen a later version of the ATMOSPHERIC DISPERSION MODELLING, however if this does exist could I receive a copy?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Loughborough University Study Confirms that Local PM2.5 Levels are ALREADY Above WHO Limits!
A recent study, using a Flow2 Personal Air Quality Monitor, has shown that the level of PM2.5 is consistently above 10 ug/m3 at several sites on and around Loughborough University's campus. Along with the other UK sites where elite and endurance athletes and swimmers train and compete, the PM2.5 level on-campus needs to be an order of magnitude lower, this is because these athletes intake a MUCH higher volume of air than the general population, on which the WHO limit is based.
The average resting human breathes approximately 5 to 6 litres of air per minute, however a typical endurance athlete may breathe around 150 litres a minute and some world class athletes (such as those based on campus) may breathe up to 300 litres a minute. It is well reported in the clinical literature that athletes are far more susceptible to respiratory problems, such as asthma, as a consequence of this increased ventilation.
It is beyond doubt that, in order to limit the risk to athletes to that of the general population, the PM2.5 level must be an order of magnitude lower than 10 ug/m3; it certainty must not be increased by emissions from the incinerator.
Loughborough Air Quality Protection Group
Press Release / Letter to the Editor – Loughborough Echo - published TBA
Some readers of the Echo will have received the Winter edition of Newhurst News, a flyer from Covanta and Biffa. It would be wise to take the information in the flyer with a big pinch of salt...
Employment? Covanta do not mention that typically an EfW plant will employ just a few tens of people when operational. They may point to employment of HGV drivers; however, at a time of severe national shortage, these drivers would be better employed delivering food and other essential supplies.
‘Residual’ Waste? Government sources report that in England in 2017 so-called residual household waste contained waste that could be categorised as readily recyclable (53%), as potentially recyclable (27%) as potentially substitutable (12%). By incinerating this waste Biffa and Covanta are breaking the circular economy and releasing the locked-in carbon from plastics thereby producing excessive greenhouse gasses! They talk about reducing the need to export waste, but imports or exports of waste for disposal are prohibited, with a few exceptions.
‘Low Carbon’ Electricity? Electricity generated from burning waste is NOT low carbon, incineration results in high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. For every tonne of waste burned, typically around one tonne of CO2 is released into the atmosphere, and around half of this is fossil CO2. 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 to be ‘low carbon i.e. solar and wind energy.
Non-hazardous Waste? The waste producer is obliged by law to correctly characterise and describe the wastes they produce. Biffa and or Covanta will be required by the Environment Agency to implement approved waste acceptance procedures in a way that does not impose significant risks, to screen-out hazardous waste. When waste arrives on-site, Covanta say that there will only be visual checks on-site prior to incineration. However mistakes do happen in the waste management process…
In 2019 Biffa was fined for trying to ship household rubbish to China labelled as wastepaper fit for recycling. The court fined Biffa £350,000 and ordered that the company pay costs of £240,000 and a further £9,912 under the Proceeds of Crime Act
Who’s Waste is Being Incinerated? Why should residents of Loughborough and Shepshed be subjected to the HGV traffic, noise and pollution generated by other people’s waste?
Covanta will need waste to burn as a fuel in order to generate and sell electricity. Where will this waste come from? How far will it be transported? How many ‘Waste-miles’ will be involved? Will waste be imported in the UK?
Why No Mention of Particulates – Especially PM2.5? The incineration process creates a plume of emissions, including deadly PM2.5, for which the World Health Organisation says there is no safe limit. Preventable deaths due to PM2.5 is the 3rd leading cause of preventable deaths in Leicestershire and approximately 88 deaths in 2018 could be attributed to it. Also bear in mind the more air you breathe-in for, example during exercise, the higher the number of particles you will ingest.
We are asking Charnwood Borough Council to set-up a comprehensive network of air quality monitoring devices, so the community can be kept fully informed about the levels of pollutants in the local air. Readers who would like to learn more about why waste incineration is bad for them and bad for the environment should look at ukwin.org.uk
The Committee - Loughborough Quality Protection Group February 2021
26th June 2020
Loughborough Air Quality Protection Group
Press Release / Letter to the Editor – Loughborough Echo - published 26th June
Will Coronavirus kill-off the Biffa Incinerator?
Just a small increase in long-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) leads to a large increase in coronavirus death rate, scientists at Harvard University have suggested.
In the latest study to show there is a large overlap between the causes of death of coronavirus patients and exposure to air pollution, their study found that an increase of only 1 microgram is associated with a 15% increase in the death rate.
The study says that because exposure to air pollution is known to damage the heart and lungs, it increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe coronavirus outcomes. And yet…
Michael Topham, Biffa’s CEO is pursuing his vanity project to build the giant waste incinerator at M1 Junction 23. Biffa has no experience of large-scale waste incineration and Covanta, Biffa’s operational partner has a long-list of convictions for breaches of environmental laws (Google covanta prosecutions). Biffa were recently fined for exporting contaminated waste.
We continue to work with the University and CBC to roll-out equipment to monitor PM2.5; this will start as soon as Biffa’s contractors, Hitachi Zosen Inova, have ‘put a spade in the ground’. Monitoring will establish the base-line for air quality at key sites that would be affected by the incinerator emissions.
In addition, a clear inconsistency is that the Environment Agency permits Biffa’s incinerator to emit thousands of tonnes p.a. of CO2. Currently CO2 is not covered by the Industrial Emissions Directive - or any other UK legislation. This is in direct conflict with central and local government assertions that the UK will become carbon neutral.
Until legislation is enacted to ban CO2 emissions from waste incineration the EA will continue to issue these permits. Earlier this year LAQPG representatives met with Jane Hunt MP and were re-assured that she remains totally opposed to the incinerator and will work with like-minded MPs to press for changes in legislation.
Our sister organisation NWRG is pressing Leicestershire County Council as the Waste [Disposal] Authority) for a statement that LCC will not contract to use the J23 incinerator for the period of their recently adopted Waste Local Plan (i.e. up to 2031).
We are also identifying CXOs in Biffa’s key customers in the public and private sectors, most of which will all have zero-carbon policies; we intend to write to them asking for similar statements. We would like to hear from anyone who may be able to assist with this. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Committee – Loughborough Air Quality Protection Group 16 June 2020
OPEN LETTER TO PROSPECTIVE MPs FOR LOUGHBOROUGH from Loughborough Air Quality Protection Group (LAQPG) - Please see their responses at the bottom of the letter....
We acknowledge that some prospective Members of Parliament for Loughborough have previously indicated support for LAQPG; we are now inviting all candidates to make a personal statement about your position on the proposed Biffa incinerator, at Junction 23 of the M1. Specifically, if elected, what action would you take to address the following concerns and issues...
1. The incinerator will burn some 350,000 tonnes of waste annually, producing 350,000 tonnes of CO2! This flies in the face of commitments to de-carbonise the UK economy and general concerns about global warming.
2. The incinerator will emit pollutants including particulates (especially PM2.5). Although the emissions are predicted to be within the legal limits permitted by the Environment Agency (EA) there are serious concerns...
a) Many experts are of the opinion that the UK legislation on permitted levels of pollutants is out of date and does not reflect the current scientific evidence. e.g. the World Health Organisation states that there is no safe level for PM2.5.
b) Permitted levels of pollutants are based in the amount of air breathed-in by a person at rest (about 5 to 6 litres per minute). Elite, endurance and high-performance athletes (all sports) breath-in at up to sixty times the rate of a person at rest; this is a major concern to Loughborough University, the UK's leading university for sport. There is no specific legislation to protect vulnerable athletes from the effects of pollutants.
3. The incinerator will burn recyclable waste, including plastics, which will be taken out of the circular economy.
4. Biffa may try to use techniques to offset the incinerator's carbon footprint
We appreciate that there are various statements within manifestos and election leaflets; with respect, there is no need to repeat these in your response which we will reproduce verbatim below and share with the 1400+ signatories our the petition on Change.org (accessible via the link on www.laqpg.org.uk)
As our MP it will be your job to protect the people of Loughborough from the effects of CO2 and harmful particulate emissions - are you up to the challenge?
Please send your responses to email@example.com
Jane Hunt (Conservative)
Received 2nd Dec
Please find below my response to your open letter.
I have already expressed my support in the past for LAQPG and that continues to be the case.
I believe that this form of incineration process is an out moded method of dealing with waste and that we should look to alternative methods, including reducing the amount of rubbish that is produced in the first instance. This method has none of the positives of recycling and reuse and all of the negatives, particularly in terms of air quality.
Aside from the air quality and potential health issues to all our residents living in the immediate area, one of our greatest business and reputational assets of this constituency is the university and the their world leading specialism in sport. This is a great asset for the country as well as the constituency. I believe that their work and success should not be hindered by this facility being I am told, down wind of the incinerator.
As the issue of air quality is a factor in the immediate area I do not believe that the process can be mitigated by a carbon positive action taken at another location. The offset will not reduce the potential harm to our local communities.
I will work with the LAQPG and others to do all I can to prevent an incinerator being built on this site.
To that end I will undertake the following:-
1. I will meet with Department of Health and Social Care representatives responsible for this area of health to discuss what assurances they have been given with regard to health safety of incinerators in general and this specific site. I will highlight the special nature of this site and emphasise the potential impact of emissions in this area.
2. I will lobby DEFRA to highlight the environmental impact of this incinerator site and the potential detrimental effect to local residents and the wider area, being in a central location in England. I will explore the risk assessment for a site of this nature in this location with them versus any possible environmental impacts.
3. I will seek an early meeting with Public Health England whose remit is "to protect and improve the nation's health" to understand the viability of an incinerator site so close to two residential communities and most particularly to a site dedicated to sport science and research. I will look to understand what studies they have undertaken or noted regarding the possible side effects of PM2.5 emissions and respiratory disease. This in addition to the research in birth defects and causes of cancer already studied in emissions.
4. I will ask questions in the House of Commons Chamber on the subject and raise the matter at every level and at every opportunity.
5. I will work with other Members of Parliament (regardless of their political party) to share understanding and add pressure to our joint argument and cause.
6. I will be guided by your research, experience and gathered knowledge in understanding the case and what can be done to achieve our goal.
I look forward to working with you should I be successful on 12th December.
With my very best wishes,
Jane Hunt Conservative Candidate for Loughborough
Stuart Brady (Labour)
Recieved 4th Dec
Dear LAQPG Committee,
Firstly, congratulations on your collaborative and evidenced based approach to resisting the construction of Biffa's incinerator at Junction 23 of the M1. I have already shared my support for your group and promoted petitions against the incinerator.
It is a real shame for all of the residents of Shepshed and Loughborough that the construction of the incinerator looks like it is going ahead.
Having worked on climate change policy before assuming my role as a barrister, I have long been concerned with the speed of our steps to decarbonise our economy. The UN Intergovernmental Panel Committee on Climate Change says we need to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, and that to do so we need to cut global emissions by 50% by 2030.
The UK needs to be leading the way in achieving that goal. It really is a case of now or never with climate change. We can already see it is happening and we need to do everything we can to limit its impact.
In that context, all focus should be on renewable energy investment, and in my view, nuclear power. We must be mindful that any investment in waste-to-power not only displaces investment that may have alternatively reached renewable power, but also "locks in" that form of power production for the lifetime of the plant. There is a drastic need to decarbonise our power grid as a first step to decarbonising every facet of our lives, such as space and water heating and vehicles that will use that electricity. Allowing dirty forms of electricity production, therefore, undermines a central plank of our decarbonisation approach.
In light of such imperatives, I would support a moratorium on the construction of such sites (even where permission has been granted) given that Parliament declared a Climate Emergency in May of this year.
In addition to the climate change considerations, we know that around 40,000 premature deaths per year come about in our country due to poor air quality. That is only one part of the air quality public health challenge, as many people with conditions like COPD and asthma will have their standard of living reduced by poor air quality. As an asthmatic and former professional sportsman I know only too well how asthma is triggered and exacerbated by poor air quality. We now know that particulate matter plays a key role in contributing to such health impacts.
We are a Constituency that already has the M1. Whilst a valuable transport artery, this is also a source of air pollution. It is notable that Shepshed, Nanpantan and the new Garendon Park development are close to the M1 and will also be very close to the incinerator. As you have identified, the leading sports university in the country is also in close proximity to the M1 and proposed incinerator.
Given that the evidence in relation to the health impacts of poor air quality and the role of particulates in public health has evolved markedly in recent years, there ought to be a review of the legislation and regulations pertaining to safe levels of particulates. There ought to also be a review of the methodologies for determining safe levels of particulates and other emissions in order to ensure:
1. Special consideration can be given for assets such as Loughborough's concentration of athletes at its University.
2. Proper consideration can be given to proximity of housing development (adjusted to account for prevailing winds).
3. The cumulative impact when combined with emissions sources like the M1 can be properly factored in.
4. That there can be a justification for the construction of such sites in and near to populated areas when more remote areas are available (I struggle to see how such a case can be made in this instance).
Again, I would argue for a moratorium on construction until such a review had taken place.
I am not a scientist nor a doctor. Hence, I fully understand the need to work collaboratively on this matter.
As your MP I would:
1. In Parliament, build on Labour's work in declaring a climate emergency to argue for a general moratorium on the construction of such plants until a review has been made of their compatibility with our Climate Emergency and new evidence around air quality and its health impacts. This will require collaborative work with other Parties, through relevant Select Committees and working with powerful campaigning groups and NGOS to bring about consensus for such a proposal. As part of such a campaign there would be tactical use of Early Day Motions, written and oral questions to Ministers, and other Parliamentary devices.
2. Work very closely with LAQPG and other groups and entities to fight the development of this site. I have already developed a good relationship with the University as Labour's candidate hence I will be ready to work very productively with the University from day one.
3. Use such groups as part of a coalition to convey messages to relevant ministers. departments and agencies: such as DEFRA and the Environment Agency. This may be through face to face meetings, joint letters, or press work.
4. Meet with Biffa themselves and industry groups to fully understand their intentions and plans.
5. Educate the public around the area on the impact to them. It is important to grow public support for the campaign to stop and/or minimise the impacts of the incinerator across Shepshed and Loughborough.
I hope the above is of some assistance to your group.
If I am lucky enough to become the MP for this great area, I would welcome a meeting in very early order so that we can work towards a collaborative strategy for fighting this incinerator and its impacts.
Many thanks for all of your work.
Best regards,Stuart Brady
Labour Candidate for Loughborough
Ian Sharpe (Lib Dem)
To be received
Queenie Tea (Indep)
To be received
Wes Walton (Green)
To be received
The Environment Agency ignored the many objections and issued an Environmental Permit to Biffa on 17th May. There was a 3 month period during which a legal challenge could be made against the EA's decision to issue the Permit. LAQPG is was supported by the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), a highly experienced barrister and a leading expert in air quality management, to ascertain if there were grounds for a viable challenge.
LAQPG identified the following possible grounds for legal challenge: a. Meteorological data from East Midland’s Airport does not represent the conditions experienced at the site; b. The Environment Agency has not provided sufficient evidence that the levels of PM2.5 from the Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) will not cause harm to elite athletes; c. The Environment Agency has not given sufficient weight to expert opinion that PM2.5 will be higher than predicted because the filtration process is not effective; and d. The Environment Agency has dismissed concerns regarding CO2 emissions.
The air quality management expert, concluded…
“In my opinion there is not a case to object to the permit variation on air quality or greenhouse gas emission grounds. There is no evidence that any Environment Agency air quality assessment level will be exceeded as a result of the operation of the ERF [incinerator]”
What we learned from this exercise is that the UK’s legal limits on emissions (as covered by Industrial Emissions Directive) are the only things that the Environment Agency take account-of when granting an Environmental Permit and that until UK law is changed to catch-up with the latest scientific research, Biffa will be permitted to emit pollutants, provided they don’t breach the current, outdated limits.
What happens next…
Research into the health effects of air pollution is on-going and at an ever increasing rate. The Environment Agency will take into account the results of systematic and expert reviews of the effects – presumably only if/when they are enshrined in UK law.
Loughborough University has advised both the Environment Agency and Biffa that it will be undertaking a research programme into the effects of PM2.5 on elite athletes.
Loughborough University has advised Biffa that they have reserved their legal position and that Biffa proceed at risk.
Charnwood Borough Council and Loughborough University will be installing PM2.5 monitoring equipment at selected sites. Installation will commence as soon as Biffa commence any construction work, this will enable baseline data to be collected.
Quite unbelievably, the Industrial Emissions Directive does not set emission limits for greenhouse gases (including CO2). The EA is happy to condone the emission of 212,264 tonnes of CO2 from the incinerator, annually.
LAQPG will continue to work with UKWIN [United Kingdom Without Incineration Network] and others to press for changes to the UK’s laws on emissions from incinerators.
Coincidentally, Leicestershire County Council (as the Waste Authority) will continue to send thousands of tonnes of waste, annually, to be burned at the Coventry and Solihull Waste Disposal Company’s incinerator near Coventry, whilst at the same time claiming to be ‘Carbon Neutral’
The Environment Agency has ignored requests for further research into the effects of incinerator emissions on elite and endurance athletes; the EA issued an Environmental Permit to Biffa on 17th May. There is a 3 month period during which a legal challenge can be made against the EA's decision to issue the Permit. LAQPG is being supported by the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) and a highly experienced barrister to ascertain if there are grounds for a viable challenge.
To see the EA's decision documentation go to gov.uk and enter newhurst in the search field.
Charnwood Borough Council has confirmed they will install particulate/air-quality monitoring equipment at key points in the town, this will establish the current (base-line) levels of pollutants. Please see the letter (below) from Jonathan Morgan Leader, Charnwood Borough Conservatives Group
At the time of writing the Environment Agency has still not made a determination on whether or not to issue Biffa with the Environmental Permit required to operate the incinerator. The public consultation period closed on 12th October (the consultation had been re-opened after the team at Loughborough University spotted an error in the documents submitted by Biffa), at the time the EA advised that a determination would be made "within 4 months" i.e. by 12th February. The EA has not given reason for the delay; we can only assume that the University's request that the EA conducts research into the effects of incinerator emissions on elite and endurance athletes has exposed the fact that the EA does not have an evidence-base upon which to make a determination. A further consideration could be that the EA has been taken to court by Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI); for details follow the link at the bottom of this screen.
Since its inception a year ago I, and many others, have been working with the Loughborough Air Quality Protection Group in relation to the campaign to review the proposed incinerator at Shepshed, next to junction 23 of the M1.
It’s clear from the work they have carried out that there are many more questions that need answering from the developers of the site, particularly around the particulate emissions in relation to the local prevailing winds, the Soar Valley, and the effect on elite athletes based at the University – all of which are unique to our town.
Whilst Charnwood Borough Council is not the planning authority for this type of development, and whilst we have acknowledged that the proposals have twice been through the County and National planning processes, we still want to know the answers to the outstanding questions being asked by LAQPG, as I know do residents and the University. So, working with LAQPG, we have agreed with them and the University, to commission work to record the relevant PM 2.5 particulates across the town, providing a baseline assessment, not only to measure emissions from the site, but also from other producers, such as traffic on the M1 and within town. This will be an important piece of work to enable us to understand better some of the questions being asked, and hopefully enable us to influence the answers.
We all want a healthier environment for our children and grandchildren, and that means working together wherever possible to achieve a cleaner and greener Loughborough and Charnwood.
Leader, Charnwood Borough Conservatives Group
Stop the Newhurst incinerator project - save Loughborough’s people from harmful emissions
Over 1400 people have signed - help us get to 1500+ signatories - thank-you
LAQPG has written an open letter to Biffa's CEO requesting a meeting where the petition would be presented. We're not holding our breath!
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.
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 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!
Prevailing winds will carry emissions to sensitive places – in an arc S.E to N.W - from the Biffa/Covanta Incinerator
|Place at Risk||People at risk||Approx. |
|Longcliffe Golf Club||Outdoor sportsmen/women||1.1|
|Longcliffe Nursing Home||Elderly people||1.8|
|Nanpantan Pre-school||Children at play outdoors||2.0|
|Nanpantan Scouts||Children at play outdoors||2.1|
|Watermead Nursery||Children at play outdoors||2.2|
|Nanpantan Sports Fields|
- Football, Cricket
|Brush Bowls Club||Outdoor sportsmen/women||2.2|
|Loughborough Tennis Club||Outdoor sportsmen/women||2.2|
– Holywell Pitches
|Holywell Primary School||Children at play outdoors||2.5|
|Charnwood College||Children at play outdoors||2.5|
|Booth Wood Primary School||Children at play outdoors||2.5|
|Ashby Ward - Charnwood||Residents||2.5|
|Nanpantan Ward - Charnwood||Residents||2.8|
– Cricket Ground
– All-weather Pitches
– Athletics Track
|Mountfields Primary School||Children at play outdoors||3.9|
|Loughborough Hospital||Infirm people||3.7|
– Sheltered Housing etc
|Planned Garendon Park SUE||Residents||1.0 - 1.5|
|Planned Science & Enterprise Parks||Employees||1.5 - 2.0|
|DNRC Stanford Hall||Infirm people||9|
This is a working list – to be revised as more information is acquired. Version 1.0
Join-up and support your community
"... 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.
"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)
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.