What on Earth is green about an incinerator?

View across the Dearne Valley and possible incinerator site.
View across the Dearne Valley and possible incinerator site.

EVERYONE must play their part to reduce the carbon footprint in the Dearne Valley.

That was the message from eco-experts who were here briefly to discuss the area’s ‘eco-vision’.

But a potential massive incinerator, belching out emissions in the heart of the eco-valley scheme was not on their discussion agenda....

Nor was the huge traffic influx that would come with it - to choke the minor roads through surrounding towns and villages and hamper any plans to lower a carbon footprint.

National specialists including Tim Smitt, the chief executive of Cornwall’s Eden Project, met with the Dearne Valley Special Board to study plans to turn the valley, once the most heavily polluted in Europe, to the lowest carbon community of its type.

The touring party included Professor Peter Roberts, Chair of Skills and Knowledge at the Homes and Communities Agency; Professor John Rodwell, a specialist in vegetation, landscapes and biodiversity, and Alice Owen, the lead commissioner for local and regional issues for the Sustainable Development Commission.

They have all volunteered help to the Chair of the Dearne Valley Special Board, local MP and Shadow Health Minister John Healey.

The team claims that a transformation can only occur if everyone takes small steps to reduce their carbon footprint, to make the area ‘a better place in which to live, work and visit’.

For the Dearne communities, they say the vision will bring more energy efficient homes, to cut fuel bills. Better transport links will improve access and reduce reliance on the car, and training opportunities will equip people for new jobs in the Dearne, as more ‘green’ businesses are attracted here.

It will, ideally, be a place where people want to live and work and bring up their families, as well as attracting visitors from across the region.

But when asked about the conflict of ideals of an incinerator within a ‘green’ low carbon community, Joanne Wehrle, Dearne Valley Eco-Vision Project Manager, said: “Cutting levels of household waste is an issue we all have to address – UK landfill sites are filling up and it is more important than ever that we all do our bit for the environment and reduce waste, reuse and recycle more”.

But she refused to state whether the team would prefer or encourage a recycling plant rather than an incinerator at Manvers.

Ms Wehrle continued: “The waste PFI project actively encourages waste reduction. This aim is consistent with the Dearne Valley Eco Vision aims. The project is evaluating two proposals from specialist waste companies to deal with the future treatment of leftover, mainly household waste. Once a preferred bidder is chosen we will be looking closely at the details of what is proposed. In discussions with the preferred bidder we shall be pressing home the priorities of the Dearne Valley Eco Vision to ensure we help to maximise the potential community and environmental benefits of this development”.