Letter: High cost of burning waste

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The Independent Online
Sir: The director of the Energy from Waste Association (letter, 9 August) suggests that waste incineration is a form of renewable energy generation. The burning of materials which have been produced making use of oil, gas and coal cannot be so described. Furthermore, far more energy can be saved by recycling paper, plastics and textiles than can be obtained by their incineration.

Coopers & Lybrand's recent report to the EC compared various waste treatment alternatives and found that incineration is more expensive than alternatives. Incineration will create less employment than recycling, have high transport needs, produce carbon dioxide and have the potential to undermine recycling. Landfill sites will still be needed for incinerator ash.

Germany, a country rather more advanced in recycling than the UK, has seen huge declines in the quantities of domestic waste this decade. This has meant that elaborate new incinerators have become "ruinous white elephants" which are costing taxpayers a fortune to keep open and need to import waste from distant sources.

The London moratorium on new incinerator plant is a long-sighted decision. We hope our own county council will heed it and scrap plans for the two proposed waste incinerators in Devon.


Mid Devon Green Party

Sampford Peverell,