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Western Morning News

Monday 8th. February 2010

'Council accused over Sita links'

CORNWALL Council has been accused of harbouring a "culture of collusion" over the controversial strategy for a £117 million waste incinerator.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show officials have advised waste contractor Sita UK on how to handle councillors, the media and on the timing of sensitive announcements.

The e-mail correspondence about the proposed energy-from-waste plant at St Dennis, Mid Cornwall, was unearthed by opponent Stephen Gilbert, who claimed it suggested a "culture of collusion".

"I expected to see no more than a dozen e-mail exchanges between the council and Sita around each of the milestones of the process," said the Lib-Dem prospective Parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay.

"I was shocked and horrified to see more than 400 pages of material. It has to bring into question whether the council is an independent adjudicator of the planning process."

French-owned Sita UK was awarded a 30-year, £427 million waste management contract by the county council in 2006.

The company had planned a single incinerator, with a 390ft chimney, to burn 240,000 tonnes of waste a year, converting it into electricity and heat to power 21,000 homes.

Those proposals were rejected by the former Cornwall County Council in March last year, leaving the future strategy for managing Cornwall's waste in disarray. Sita announced its appeal last September.

But Mr Gilbert claimed the documents revealed that the "client/contractor" and "planning authority and applicant" relationship had become confused, with officers "overstepping the mark".

"It is all very well to open a relationship with a private company and contractor but behind the scenes, the council should have enough firewalls in place to prevent what seems to be a far too cosy relationship," he added.

"You might expect council officers to work with Sita but in my view, that should be limited to strategic issues, not the way information is presented to members."

One e-mail from an unnamed Sita official was sent to County Hall a week before the plans went before the planning committee on March 26.

"We feel we should send a letter to the members in advance of the planning meeting to ensure they are fully informed," it said. "The first draft is attached. This will also be the basis of my presentation on the day. Comments would be welcome."

An officer from County Hall responded by offering advice on the presentation and tips on what else to include.

"I agree with (name redacted) that the tone is good and that the first para (graph) should be modified as she suggests.

"Electricity and heat: I would also add some more on the heat use by Goonvean and Imerys reducing significantly the use of gas, a fossil fuel, and helping to secure the future of those driers and associated jobs.

"Nature conservation: Make the point that the enhanced clean up and higher stack will make this the cleanest plant the country, as befits Cornwall.

"Health impacts: Should include a quote from the Food Standards Agency. Employment: Could also include the employment of Cormac – 40 on the road construction for a year."

Two days before the planning decision, someone else at Cornwall Council said the private briefing of councillors "went well" adding that the "heat use" by the driers "could make several members vote in favour if it is presented in the right way".

Despite the advice, councillors rejected Sita's planning application – to the joy of campaigners from St Dennis.

Behind the scenes, discussions between council officials and Sita then turned to the likelihood – and timing – of an appeal.

One note from the council on April 28 cynically suggested that the appeal could have been made during the county election "purdah period" – a political move designed to frustrate debate as councillors would have been unable to comment.

Another telling exchange came in August 2009 – two weeks before Sita made public its intention to appeal.

A letter from a council official laid out concerns about the company's ability to manage media inquiries, while Sita was asking for a delay.

The response from Sita warned: "As we learnt from the previous planning process, management of media interaction, development of a positive argument and above all access to members is critical."

Officials in the council's legal department were also not afraid of having a flippant swipe at local campaigners, after Sita was rebuked by the Advertising Standards Agency over one of its leaflets.

"I trust they will be looking at some of Stig's (St Dennis Anti Incinerator Group) literature too," said the council e-mail.

Mr Gilbert said he had been "consistently opposed" to the incinerator even though it put him at odds with his own party, when the Lib-Dems controlled the county council.

"My view is that it is the wrong technology," he said. "Do we really want to send 250,000 tonnes of waste to be burnt, year-on-year for 30 years? I am 33 now, and I will be 63 when we stop paying for this PFI contract.

"I'd like the council to look at anaerobic digestion and gassification, in particular, to have four or five smaller sites, near to the major centres of population in Cornwall."

Campaigners are currently working to prepare for the planning inquiry, which is due to start on March 16 and last for more than 20 days.

Pat Blanchard, chairman of the St Dennis Anti Incinerator Group, said she was "hugely disappointed" by the content of the e-mails.

"Clearly, we have got one group of officers and councillors who believe this is a bad application and should be refused," she said.

"Then we have got another group of people who seem to be more interested in saving face and their reputation and looking after Sita's interests. They need to be reminded that they serve the people of Cornwall, not Sita."

Matthew Taylor, MP for Truro and St Austell, said the e-mails were "clearly unacceptable".

"They clearly overstep the mark," the Lib-Dem MP added. "It can't be right that officers are telling Sita how to influence councillors' opinions."

A spokesman for Cornwall Council said its relationship with Sita was "professional and robust" and that the council had "endeavoured to be as open as possible" over the incinerator. "Cornwall Council has a long-term contract worth over £400 million with Sita for the provision of waste management services throughout Cornwall.

"The relationship between the council and Sita is professional and robust and it is entirely understandable that there has been, and will continue to be, extensive contact between the two organisations on all levels.

"The contract has already delivered significant improvements to the network of household waste recycling centres, transfer stations and the two materials recycling facilities with more recycling centres and transfer stations on the way.

"Cornwall Council has endeavoured to be as open as possible with the public when dealing with the emotive issue of the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre given that some items, as in all business matters, have to be treated as confidential."

A spokesman for Sita said: "Sita Cornwall is a major supplier to Cornwall Council, with a 30-year contract to supply vital services on behalf of every household in the county.

"It is only right and proper that we should communicate with the council to ensure we offer the quality services they expect.

"It is also important that we agree how our activities should be communicated, so that the public is given accurate and consistent information.

"Regarding the delivery of new waste infrastructure, including the CERC, it is crucial that we talk to the council regularly, as this represents a series of extremely important decisions, which must be made following an open dialogue."

 

Tuesday 17th. November 2009

'£30m bill to halt incinerator plan'

TAXPAYERS in Cornwall face a crippling £30 million bill if plans for a controversial waste incinerator are abandoned, writes WMN chief reporter Andy Greenwood.

The former Cornwall County Council rejected plans, from its own waste contractor, for a £117 million energy-from-waste plant at St Dennis, Mid-Cornwall, in March this year.

French-owned Sita UK, which was awarded a 30-year, £427 million waste management contract by the county council in 2006, has now appealed against that decision and a planning inquiry is due in March next year.

It has now emerged that the new Cornwall Council is entitled to cancel the contract because work to start building the incinerator will miss a deadline set for next March.

Depending on the outcome of the planning inquiry, councillors face choosing between the massively unpopular incinerator, which opponents fear will have major health implications, and a bill which could have damaging consequences for other frontline services in a climate of financial hardship for the public sector.

Then there is the threat of further multi-million pound fines for continuing to landfill huge amounts of rubbish and the dwindling capacity in the county's landfill sites. Coun Julian German, who holds the waste and environment portfolio on the council, said there would be "ramifications" for frontline services if they abandoned the current contract.

"It is a reality check," he said last night. "This is the situation we are in, we do want to look at what the possible alternatives are and we have to go through what the financial and environmental implications are.

"We recognise that we are in a difficult position."

The incinerator, with a proposed 390ft chimney, would process 240,000 tonnes of waste a year. It would be capable of handling all Cornwall's domestic waste and converting it into electricity and heat to power 21,000 homes.

Campaigners fear it will blight the local community for more than a generation and want other measures, including greater recycling and cleaner technological solutions, introduced.

Pat Blanchard, chairman of the St Dennis Anti Incinerator Group (STIG), said: "A mass burn incinerator in the heart of Cornwall is not just unsustainable it is downright immoral.

"£30 million may be a small price to pay to ensure that we get the best way to deal with Cornwall's waste."

The council released details of the compensation clause in a comprehensive statement which, it claimed, was released "in a spirit of openness".

Terminating Sita's contract would result in a compensation payment for all the facilities, such as recycling centres, it has provided so far. The bill is estimated at £30 million.

The current contract does allow for a smaller incinerator to be built and an anaerobic digestion facility added. However, any alternative scheme involving a different technology or location outside central Cornwall would also break the current contract.

It would also trigger a new tendering process, resulting in substantial delays.

The three councillors from the china clay area, Dick Cole, Fred Greenslade and John Wood, are currently helping STIG to prepare their case for the planning inquiry.

"It remains our view that the proposal for an incinerator at St Dennis is unsustainable," they said.

"We are working hard to make sure that Sita's appeal does not succeed and to persuade the council to find a better way to deal with Cornwall's waste.

"It is our intention to do everything in our power to make sure that Cornwall Council's cabinet fully considers the option to terminate the contract."

Sita confirmed that it had recently written to the council stating that it would be unable to achieve the "long-stop date" to build the incinerator because of the forthcoming inquiry.

The council's Cabinet now needs to decide whether to terminate the contract or ask for a revised project plan.

A spokesman for the company said it was currently waiting for "feedback" from the council.

 

Wednesday 2nd. September 2009

'Sita will appeal incinerator ruling'

THE company behind controversial plans for a new £117 million incinerator in Cornwall has appealed the council's decision to refuse it planning permission.

French-owned Sita UK yesterday confirmed its plans to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate after the then-Cornwall County Council refused the company planning permission to build in St Dennis, Mid-Cornwall, in March this year.

Campaigners against the incinerator said they feared massive health risks arising from the plant, which would process 240,000 tonnes of municipal waste a year and see 90 lorries visiting the site every day. It would be capable of handling all Cornwall's domestic waste and converting it into electricity and heat to power 21,000 homes.

David Buckle, project director at Sita UK, said: "There is an urgent need for this facility to avoid a waste management crisis and to provide a modern waste management solution for the whole county in which we produce energy from non-recycled waste, rather than landfill it."

Cornwall Council executive member for the environment, Julian German, said: "The council will watch with interest to see how Sita addresses the points cited by Cornwall Council's planning committee in March, when refusing the application."

The possibility of an appeal by Sita was revealed last week by the Western Morning News.

Pat Blanchard, chairman of protesters St Dennis Anti Incinerator Group (Stig), last night said the group would continue to fight the plans.

She said: "We are appalled at the attitude Sita has taken against a decision made on solid planing grounds. We won the battle, we will now win the war, we won't let Sita destroy Cornwall."

A public inquiry is expected in 2010.

 

Saturday 29th. August 2009

'Sita 'putting two fingers up to us'

PROTESTERS have vowed to fight plans for a new incinerator in Cornwall after a leaked council memo revealed the previously refused scheme could yet get the go-ahead.

Members of the St Dennis Anti Incinerator Group (Stig) will renew their opposition to build an incinerator with a 390ft chimney in the village near St Austell, after Cornwall Council inadvertently revealed the French-owned company Sita UK planned to appeal a decision refusing the incinerator.

The news comes almost five months to the day since the then-Cornwall County Council planning committee refused Sita permission to build the giant £117 million waste-to-energy plant in the heart of the Cornish countryside.

But last night protesters, who had been fighting the waste and recycling management company for five years, vowed to renew their opposition to the development.

Stig treasurer Jean Amos said: "We had a feeling that Sita might appeal, but hoped they wouldn't on the grounds of the plan being thrown out last time. We always knew we may have to fight them, and that's what we'll do."

News of the appeal was passed to the Western Morning News after a council e-mail was accidentally sent to Steve Gilbert, Lib-Dem prospective Parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay.

The memo read: "Julian German, Cabinet Member for Waste and Environment, has requested that a private and confidential Member briefing be held on 1 September 2009 to brief Members in advance of the announcement of the CERC (Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre) appeal by Sita.

"This invitation is initially targeted at the Members of the Waste Development Advisory Panel; Group Leaders and Local Members, although other Members are free to attend if they so wish. In any event, a briefing note will be issued to all Members in due course."

Mr Gilbert said: "Sita are putting two fingers up to people in St Dennis and across Cornwall who have made it perfectly clear that they didn't want the planned incinerator.

"Cornwall Council must now use the best legal team in the country to defend the original decision to reject the plans."

Mr Gilbert is also calling for the private briefing to be held in public. He said: "What we don't need now is for councillors to meet behind closed doors to decide what to do.

"It's been perfectly clear over the past two years that people in St Dennis know as much, if not more, as officers and councillors about this issue and they will no doubt have a valuable contribution to make."

The WMN asked Cornwall Council to explain its decision to organise a confidential meeting regarding the appeal. A statement from the council read: "This is an invitation to a private briefing for elected members of the council on Tuesday, September 1. The details are confidential and the council cannot make any further comment at this time."

Campaigners against the incinerator said they fear massive health risks arising from the plant, which would process 240,000 tonnes of municipal waste a year and see 90 lorries visiting the site every day. It would be capable of handling all Cornwall's domestic waste and converting it into electricity and heat to power 21,000 homes.

Stig chairman Pat Blanchard said the group was "trusting our new Cornwall councillors to ensure the council robustly challenges this appeal" and ensure the best legal advice was gained to support the decision the planning committee made.

"A public announcement would have been much preferred," she said. "We were used to the previous council doing things behind closed doors, but not Cornwall Council. The fight continues."

Anthony Durston, spokesman for Sita, said an appeal against the decision had "not been lodged".

He said: "We are unable to provide further information at the moment. However, we are keen to keep the local community updated and will provide more information as soon as we are in a position to do so."

Stig members plan to hold an emergency meeting

 

Friday 27th. March 2009

Campaigners jubilant as incinerator rejected

JUBILANT scenes broke out after plans to build a giant incinerator in the heart of Cornwall were scrapped.

The vote by an overwhelming majority to refuse the application was greeted by whoops and cheers from the packed public gallery at County Hall.

The decision by Cornwall County Council planning committee, at the end of a rancorous battle over the plans, was greeted by protesters as a victory for common sense – with one campaigner saying yesterday that it felt "like winning the cup".

Sita, the French company behind the application for a 390ft incinerator at St Dennis in Mid Cornwall, said that it was considering its position and may appeal against the decision.

During the debate at County Hall yesterday, one councillor described the planned incinerator as "a festering boil waiting to erupt" and the local MP called on councillors to pull together in the interests of the people of Cornwall.

Ken Rickard, chairman of campaign group St Dennis Anti Incinerator Group (Stig), said after the meeting: "The overall result is nothing short of fantastic.

"It's been very intense and I've shed a few tears this afternoon. I can't explain it – it's like winning the cup.

"I would like to thank all of the county councillors for the way they have conducted themselves and shown common sense in coming up with the right decision."

In the council chamber, 20 councillors voted in favour of refusing the application. Glenton Brown, the Liberal Democrat member for Tintagel, abstained and Les Hunkin, Liberal Democrat member for Grampound and Mevagissey, voted against the refusal.

During the debate, Andrew Waters, independent councillor for St Enoder and Colan, said: "It will be more like a festering boil waiting to erupt."

Roger Bonney, chairman of the planning committee, said after the meeting: "It's probably one of the most important meetings that this county council has ever had.

"It's one of the biggest projects ever looked at that could have affected people from Land's End to Launceston."

Coun Bonney commended the anti-incinerator campaigners on the case they put before the committee and the behaviour of more than 100 supporters at the meeting.

The bitter battle over the incinerator plans had become increasingly fraught over the past two weeks as the Western Morning News revealed that a draft report by planning officers recommending refusal of the plans had been changed at the last minute to recommend approval.

Campaigners against the incinerator said they feared massive health risks arising from the plant which would have processed 240,000 tonnes of municipal waste a year and seen 90 lorries visiting the site every day.

Many people were surprised yesterday by the huge margin by which the proposals were rejected. Dick Cole, Restormel borough councillor who spoke on behalf of St Enoder Parish Council, said after the vote: "We were confident we had the right arguments but we didn't expect to win as overwhelmingly as we did."

Truro and St Austell MP Matthew Taylor (Liberal Democrat) said: "This was clearly the right decision as the overwhelming majority against the application clearly shows.

"The county should now urgently work to look at cheaper, quicker and more environmentally friendly options for dealing with Cornwall's waste."

Graeme Hicks, independent councillor for Redruth South, said: "They will now have to go back and look at other ways of disposing of waste and look at the latest technologies."

At yesterday's meeting, planning officer Adrian Lea explained the background to the incinerator plans saying the council needed to take action to tackle its reliance on landfill sites. The county could face fines in the future if EU targets for reducing landfill were not met, he said.

After the meeting, David Buckle, Sita's project director, said the company would now be considering the reasons given by the planning committee for the refusal.

When asked if Sita would be appealing against the decision, Mr Buckle said: "We will be speaking to the county council and will decide what to do next."

County Hall March 2009

 

Monday 23rd. March 2009

Incinerator Report Switched

A DRAFT report recommending the rejection of a giant waste incinerator for Cornwall has been replaced at the last minute, the Western Morning News can exclusively reveal.

A draft document leaked to the WMN concerning the proposed Energy Recovery Centre in St Dennis, which was written by Cornwall County Council planning officers for a meeting set for March 19, clearly states a recommendation to refuse the application.

But the authority has since issued an official report for the rescheduled meeting this Thursday, which recommends approval for the 390ft incinerator in the middle of the countryside.

The change has sparked outrage among campaigners and politicians fighting the controversial plans, amid warnings that the cost of them not being approved could be more than £160 million.

County councillor Graeme Hicks has now officially asked the police to investigate the matter.

Last week, the WMN revealed fears from MP Matthew Taylor that the report had been "spiked" in favour of a document recommending approval.

The original draft report states: "It is concluded that, on balance, the planning application is contrary to the policies of the Development Plan with regard to the impacts on environmental and amenity interests and that a departure from these policies is not warranted."

However, the new document from the county council was written by a different officer and comes to the opposite conclusion, recommending that councillors vote in favour of the incinerator plans.

It states: "Overall, I believe the proposal is in accordance with national policies and the Development Plan. There are no other material considerations that would lead me to make a recommendation other than for approval."

Both reports refer to the impacts caused by noise and general disturbance, but the new one contains the following statement: "These are serious impacts that must be given significant weight. However, I do not consider they are so serious in degree that they outweigh the overall support for the proposals in the Development Plan.

"It is inevitable that harm of these types will arise to a greater or lesser degree if the aim of providing a single EFW (energy from waste unit) is to be fulfilled within the area of search."

The original draft report was prepared by experienced planning officers Chris Daly and Adrian Lea. The new one was written by Phil Mason, who has been appointed head of planning for Cornwall's new unitary authority, which comes into existence on April 1. He was previously deputy chief executive at Restormel Borough Council, which made official statements opposing the incinerator plans.

Coun Graeme Hicks, independent county councillor and leader of Kerrier District Council, said he had formally reported the matter to the police. "I want to ensure that the public retains confidence in this highly important issue," he said.

Mebyon Kernow councillor Dick Cole, chairman of Restormel's planning committee, said: "It is little wonder that people are questioning the transparency of the whole process, with the applicant being the county council's own waste disposal contractor. The people of St Dennis and Mid-Cornwall deserve answers as to what is going on. The credibility of the whole planning system in Cornwall is at stake."

Truro and St Austell MP, Matthew Taylor said the authority was "both poacher and gamekeeper", adding: "This leak makes the county council's position as a supposedly independent planning authority utterly compromised."

A council spokesman said any initial reports were "only draft" and different proposals were considered as part of the application process.

Referring to the Lib-Dems' warning of a £163 million bill if the incinerator did not get the go-ahead, he added: "The potential financial implication of a decision is not a valid planning reason for refusing or approving an application."

 

 

Tuesday 17th.March 2009

PLANS to build a giant incinerator in the middle of Cornwall are being pushed through by undemocratic means, it has been claimed.

Councillors and campaigners say Cornwall County Council is "undermining the democratic process" by rewriting a crucial report which will guide councillors in their decision over the 390ft-high incinerator.

The Western Morning News understands that the report to the planning committee was originally being penned by two planning officers, Chris Daly and Adrian Lea, whose draft report recommended refusal of the plans.

But it is now thought that Phil Mason, the new head of planning, has written a revised version of the report which will recommend councillors give their approval.

Matthew Taylor, MP for Truro and St Austell, has written to the council demanding answers over the allegations that the original recommendation of refusal has been "spiked".

Mr Taylor has sent a letter to Mr Mason, head of planning and regeneration at the county council, in which he states: "There are allegations that a draft recommendation of refusal has been 'spiked' by the leadership and/or senior officers of the council.

"I would appreciate an urgent explanation of the process by which the recommendation is being drawn up, and your response to these allegations."

Mr Taylor has long called for a full public inquiry into the plans for St Dennis. He said: "Right from the start, I've had a huge concern regarding the county council reaching a decision about an idea that they came forward with in the first place."

The council has announced that the decisive planning meeting, which will see councillors vote on the incinerator, has been postponed once again until March 26.

Independent Cornwall county councillor Armorel Carlyon said: "From what I can ascertain, it appears that there's a great deal of pressure from someone at County Hall who is determined to recommend an approval at all costs.

"If this is the case, this is undermining the whole democratic process and the independence of the planning committee.

"This is yet another disaster from the regime at County Hall and I think people in the wider community will be appalled if this is found to be the case."

French company SITA submitted a planning application a year ago to build what it refers to as the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre (CERC) in the former clay mining area of St Dennis. The centre would process 240,000 tonnes of mainly household waste every year and has prompted massive concerns over air, noise and light pollution.

Ken Rickard, from campaigners St Dennis Incinerator Group (Stig), said: "We're very concerned about these allegations regarding a last-minute change in planning officer. If this is the case, then the democratic process is not being followed."

Mr Rickard said the group was very disappointed the planning meeting had now been postponed twice.

The council issued a statement last night saying that Mr Mason was asked by the newly appointed chief executive in December to take responsibility for planning services at Cornwall County Council in the transition period. It added: "Any major application goes through a number of processes which will identify both negative and positive aspects of a scheme. Any initial reports are only draft and different proposals are considered as part of the application process."

SITA declined to comment.

 

 

 

Tuesday 17th.March 2009

Owen Brain at County Hall
Owen Braine, from Zelah, wears a batman costume while
making a highly visible protest on the roof of County hall Truro

'David and Goliath' battle
to give my village a future

One of the largest - and most fiercely
contested - planning applications in
Cornwall's history will be debated at
County Hall on March 26.
Ken Rickard, chairman of a
grassroots group,opposed the
siting of a waste incinerator at
St Dennis, explains why he is
personally against the scheme
Ken Rickard

I AM proud to be chairman of a group of local people in the village of St Dennis in Mid-Comwall who have proved just what can be achieved when a small community gets together to fight a large multi-national company's plan that will have a colossal impact on their lives.

The company is SITA and it wants to build a huge mass-bum incinerator in a field on the outskirts of our village, near to site named by the Ordnance Survey as the very centre of Cornwall. The incinerator's chimneys will rise more than 120 metres high and will be visible from both north and south coasts.

Three years ago STIG (St Dennis Anti-incinerator Group) was formed by those in the village opposing the building of an incinerator on its outskirts. We actually oppose incineration anywhere as a form of waste disposal because our research and investigations into waste management have shown how many better alternatives exist.

This detailed research has been necessary because the "Goliath" SITA, in making its proposals and planning application to Cornwall County Council, has produced mountains of documentation and data that have had to be scrutinised, understood and then challenged by many "Davids" in St Dennis.

It has been claimed that St Dennis was chosen as the site for the plant because it was anticipated our small and relatively poor economic community would offer the least resistance to the proposal. How wrong we have proved SITA and the county council and I am proud how informed and dignified we have been as we have set about making our case.

From the outset we have been determined not to be "nimbys" worrying about certain small issues. We have wanted to make the case for Cornwall and its elected representatives to reject this proposal because we believe it is bad, not just for us on its doorstep, but for everyone in Cornwall who believes in protecting our environment for future generations.

This is a personal view so I won't go into all the details - they can be found on our website, www.st-ig.co.uk - but the main reasons for objecting are:

• Mass bum technology is out of date. There have been huge technology advances in recent years. So to commit Cornwall for thirty years and beyond t9o this contract is not the thinking of a modern society.

• Modern technology such as modern recycling facilities, mechanical ecological treatment, team autoclaving, and anaerobic digestion are already proven.

SITA's planning application contravenes many issues and regulations such as:

• Its impact on the Special Area of Conservation, Goss Moor, which is the unique habitat of many species of wildlife and plants, many of which are UK and EU protected species.

• The destruction of historic farmland and landscape.

• EU directives on waste being out of step with waste hierarchy.

• Being contrary to Restormel Borough Council, Local Plan, Regional and National Policies, Regional Spatial Strategy, Cornwall Structural Plan.

English Heritage has objected to the planning application on the grounds that it would harm the historic landscape character and impact on grade 2 listed buildings, contrary to the Cornwall Structural Plan.

On a point of Cornish heritage, the ancient site of Castle-an-Dinas looks out over the proposed incinerator site, which is also where King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table are said to have hunted and stabled their horses.

A more present and prescient reason to turn the proposal down is STIG's shared concerns with 33,000 members of doctors' associations, who in 2008 made representations to the European Parliament stating their concerns for emission pollutant threats to human health. There will be vast amounts of C02 emissions from more than 350 vehicle movements a day and the incinerator alone will create more than 160,000 tons of C02 per year. So much for reducing C02 emissions and countering climate change.

There are many other major negative issues such as road transport, health and welfare, property devaluation and the proposed site being on greenfield land which is part of a large milk producing farm.

I am determined, along with many others, that we must not allow St Dennis and Cornwall to be the victim of what I and many others believe is a very contentious and secretive waste contract between Cornwall County Council and SITA. At times it has felt that only lip service has been paid to public consultation. SITA has held only one meeting in the village of St Dennis and that was behind closed doors with a select attendance.

We have been determined to have our say and have achieved this. Our campaign has included representations at Cornwall County Council public meetings, one of which saw more than 30 members of the public all speaking in opposition to SITA's planning application; at Restormel Borough Council, when the councillors unanimously voted to object to SITA's planning application on two occasions; and at meetings with the Environment Agency both public and private.

STIG's response to SITA's original planning application, which consisted of 10 A4 files of documentation, amounted to a 170-page hard copy and electronic copies being sent to Cornwall County Council and more than 70 prominent people and agencies, including the Government Office for the South West (GOSW).

Our response to SITA's Operating Permit Application to the Environment Agency, which consisted of three A4 files of documentation, equated to 110 pages of hard copy on electronic disc. These were sent to the Environment Agency, Cornwall County Council, GOSW and other agencies.

The EA announced at a public meeting held in St Dennis that this was the best compiled and best presented response ever received by the agency nationally, and that in future it would be used to inform national policy. If ever our community's campaign needed justification that it was making an impact, this was it.

There is no evidence the applicant will be able to guarantee emissions will be low enough to achieve an environmental operating permit from the Environment Agency. We could have the ridiculous situation of having the monstrosity of a building being built without having a permit being granted to operate it.

Ammonia emissions have not been considered, nor have surveys of some protected species of fauna and flora. Natural England is not convinced the incinerator emission will not harm the SAC Goss Moor.

The latest response compiled was to SITA's "further information" document, in reply to Cornwall County Council's questions. It equated to 90 pages of A4 hard copy. The electronic copies were again sent to Cornwall County Council and all the appropriate agencies including GOSW All our responses were well planned, with contributions coming from STIG and our strategy group. These responses were collated by our webmaster team in a very informative and professional manner which was a credit to them and our organisation and planning.

Our work has involved too many meetings to quote. It is fair to say our campaign has taken over our lives. For the last eight months the STIG strategy group, which consists of a formidable team of very talented and dedicated people, have met virtually every week.

We've have a fantastic website and have even made two short YouTube films to get our views across. All our work has been researched and planned in detail and this has resulted in STIG being able to record many flaws and inaccuracies in the planning application and these have been presented as genuine reasons as to why it should be refused.

Recently another anomaly has surfaced surrounding the proposed new road which is planned to carry all incinerator traffic to and from the A30 trunk road. This project has already involved the desecration of mature trees, recently planted young trees and scrub - the habitat of protected species of fauna and flora. This work was carried out without the appropriate licence being obtained regarding the disturbance of an adjacent badger set - a fact not recorded in the original panning application. The fact that. this proposed new road will be built across an area of woodland near Trerice Bridge, which has tree preservation orders on it, appears to be disregarded.

I believe that this proposed haul road, with its dangerous road junctions, would bring about an unacceptable level of disruption and accident potential to the C184 road.

The past few days has seen the start of construction work on the site access road by Cormac In my opinion this situation shows little regard for democracy and is surely a case of Cornwall County Council prejudging the result of SITA's planning application. It also puts pressure on the planning committee, which in my opinion could well be in conflict with the Communities and Local Government code of conduct.

Recently a well organised letter-writing campaign resulted in 612 letters complaining about the balloon which was raised recently on site. The letters also sought public speaking rights at the Cornwall County Council planning committee meeting scheduled for March 26. The letters were presented by me to Councillor Roger Bonney, chairman of the planning committee. This exercise did bear fruit because later that afternoon when Councillor Bonney informed us Cornwall County Council had made the unprecedented step of granting public speaking rights. This was a most welcome decision which resulted in STIG being granted 10 minutes' speaking time.

I would say that to preserve the quality of life of our community and the historic image of our locality and indeed Cornwall, and to contribute to combating climate change and reducing C02 emissions, we are hoping democracy will prevail and SITA's planning application will be decided on planning issues alone and not be influenced by pressure from other issues. If this is practiced then this should result in SITA's planning application being refused.

I would also say to the planning committee do not make a decision which would destroy the community of St Dennis and commit Cornwall to 30 years of out of date -polluting technology. I sincerely hope, as we all do, that SITA's planning application will be refused.

Our latest plans include providing, in conjunction with St Dennis Parish Council, coach transport to take people to County Hall on Thursday, March 26. We would encourage as many people as possible to attend because this will be the last chance to show their objection.

We would like to emphasis that we encourage visual protesting with placards. We do request protests are conducted in the best civilised manner and that our elected representatives making this very important decision are given due respect. This applies outside and inside of the building. It is imperative our reputation for informed and dignified opposition is maintained.

My advice to supporters is to be at County Hall by 8.30am to show your visual protest ahead of councillors arriving for the 10am meeting.

Montage
This montage view from Fore Street in St Dennis shows how the proposed
incinerator would dominate the landscape. A height marker balloon hoisted
by Cornwall County Council is clearly visible beside the top of the chimney

Tuesday 17th.March 2009

Letters

More must be allowed to speak on incinerator
THE decision meeting for the Cornwall incinerator has been put back yet again, to Thursday, March 26. It has been confirmed that only St Dennis, St Enodoc and St Stephen Parish Councils, St Dennis Incinerator Group (STIG) and SITA can speak at County Hall, with each allowed 10 minutes.
We accept that an unlimited number of speakers cannot be accommodated, but we believe this is overly restrictive and certainly not the public speaking rights petitioned for.
STIG asks, at the very least, for St Austell and Newquay parliamentary candidates to be able to speak, as well as Cornwall Sustainable Waste Network and Transition Cornwall Network - umbrella organisations representing many groups and individuals, with expert evidence to present.
We question whether preventing ordinary members of the public from speaking is democratic or acceptable.
Limiting speakers to so few organisations, from only the immediate area, may be seen as an act of containment or damage limitation, and a "token gesture". It gives the impression that the council is trying to engineer the perception that this is merely a "little local issue" of interest only to those living close to the site, but we are convinced that all those of good conscience understand that it affects the whole of Cornwall.
Considering the 30-plus years the incinerator would operate, adding mere minutes to the time allocated for considering this momentous decision is surely not too much to ask.

Patricia Blanchard

Secretary, STIG St Dennis

 

Thursday 18th.September 2008

Hundreds Protest Against Incinerator

TEMPERS frayed last night as angry Clay Country residents vented their frustration over plans to build an incinerator on their doorstep.

Nearly 1,000 men, women and children packed into a specially erected marquee on St Dennis playing field – which could be in the shadow of the giant plant proposed by French firm SITA.

The meeting gave rise to some explosive gestures of support as speaker after speaker called on Cornwall County Council to throw out the application.

But it was in a quiet and sincere voice that one elderly woman summed up the feelings of many.

Reading a statement by St Dennis Primary School governor, Ginny Edwards, she pleaded on behalf of the children.

"The spectre of this has been hanging over the people of St Dennis for a long time. The psychological toll it has taken has been huge and many people have grown depressed about the perceived health threats to their children."

Then, speaking directly to the planning committee, she said: "Are you prepared to gamble with these children's lives? I am not, as a governor of St Dennis school, and I am not as a human being."

Stephen Gilbert, Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for the new St Austell and Newquay constituency, won rapturous applause when he spoke of a "David and Goliath" battle.

"This community says with one voice, this is the wrong choice for Cornwall and the wrong choice for St Austell."

Carolyn Righton, Conservative parliamentary prospective candidate for the same constituency, mocked SITA's acronym, CERC, which stands for Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre. "I'm sorry but I refuse to call it an energy from waste plant. It is an incinerator."

A series of slides shown by ward representative Fred Greenslade demonstrated the sheer scale of the plant and how much it would dwarf the surrounding communities.

Julia Clarke, of St Dennis Parish Council, said the plant would be 400 metres from the nearest front door and to cheers from the audience pleaded with Cornwall County Council: "Where is your duty of care?"

Restormel Borough Council has already unanimously rejected the application.

Dick Cole, Restormel councillor and leader of Mebyon Kernow, said putting an incinerator on the outskirts of such a small community was a huge mistake. "There will be noise, smell, dust and light pollution, none of which have been taken into account," he said.

The meeting started with a largely un-heckled presentation by SITA, which says the plant would eliminate the need for landfill in Cornwall and would bring 250 new jobs while it was under construction and 48 when it opens. The spokesman said the CERC would not receive an environmental permit if its credentials weren't green.

The council's planning committee and other members of the authority silently listened to successive presentations. A date for the meeting to decide the application has not yet been set.

 

25th.May 2007

MPS CALL FOR PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO INCINERATOR

Westcountry MPs are continuing to press for a public inquiry into the building of a controversial waste incinerator in Cornwall.Protesters against the proposed building at St Dennis, near St Austell, are hoping the Government will step in and stop the project.

On the floor of the House of Commons yesterday Matthew Taylor, MP for Truro and St Austell, asked Defra minister David Miliband for a public inquiry.

Mr Miliband said: "Because that is a planning issue, I obviously have to be extremely careful about what I say, but there are two relevant points.

"First, Liberal Democrat Cornwall county council put forward the proposal, and local Liberal Democrats, who are no doubt in touch with local feeling, have decided that is the right thing to do.

"Secondly, it would be wrong for me to pop up and announce a public inquiry today, and to interfere with the due processes."

Afterwards Mr Taylor said: "This Government doesn't know whether it's coming or going on waste. With Government policy changing every few months, there is no way the proposal should go ahead until it has been subject to scrutiny at a full public inquiry."

The decision to have a public inquiry or not would be made by Ruth Kelly, Communities and Local Government Secretary, once planning permission has been submitted.

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WASTE INCINERATOR LINK TO CHILD DEATH RATES

22nd.May 2007

An expert on the effects of pollution is warning of a link between public waste incinerators and child death rates.Dr Dick Van Steenis told a concerned Westcountry audience that infant mortality rates and asthma rates go "sky-high" around incinerators.

The warning shocked residents of a Cornish village that could be the site of a proposed incinerator.

Dr Van Steenis spoke to a packed audience of concerned people from St Dennis in Mid Cornwall and the surrounding area at a presentation on Friday evening in St Austell

The doctor, who is an adviser to a House of Commons select committee on air pollution, said: "The danger comes from the particles released into the atmosphere. They are of a size where they can be easily inhaled into the lung where they lodge and cause damage to the body."

He said that the most damaging particle, known as PM 2.5 is particularly harmful to youngsters. Dr Van Steenis warned that pollutants from the incinerator would also affect people living in Newquay, Bodmin and St Austell, depending on the wind direction.

"Newborn babies are more likely to succumb to damage from chemical pollutants in these inhaled particles," he said.

"Around every single incinerator, infant mortality rates, asthma rates and autism rates are sky-high."

French waste management company Sita is proposing to build a massive incinerator in St Dennis just 500 yards away from where people live.

Dr Van Steenis is calling for a public inquiry into the proposals - he has campaigned against planned incinerators 30 times and in 25 cases has been on the winning side.

He told the crowd in St Austell: "Don't think you are just one person who can't do anything. You can do a lot if you have the right information and lobby the right people."

Truro and St Austell MP Matthew Taylor (Lib-Dem) has long been calling for a public inquiry into the matter.

Mr Taylor said: "I don't believe there is public support for the incinerator - this is an environmental county and we're proud of what we've got."

To great applause the MP continued: "People ought to have the opportunity to ask questions and that's why they should get a public inquiry."

Mr Taylor said that he will be pressing ministers to call for a public inquiry after an expected planning application is submitted this summer.

County councillor Tamsin Williams (Lib-Dem) was one of only three Liberal Democrat councillors who voted against the incinerator at County Hall.

Ms Williams, who represents Penzance, said at the meeting: "I don't think it's right that Penzance and the rest of Cornwall are going to dump their waste on St Dennis."

Adam Paynter, Cornwall County Council's executive member for environment and heritage, was unable to attend.

Sita general manager Louis de Poncheville was also invited.

He wrote a letter to Lyn Sims, who is leading the campaign against the incinerator, which said: "We hope you will be able to understand that we will not be accepting your invitation because experience elsewhere, over a number of years, has shown us that large public meetings do not present the opportunity for open detailed debate that is needed."

Beverley Elliott, a concerned mother-of-two from St Austell, said: "We're supposed to be regenerating St Austell but this is going to degenerate the whole area."

David James, a father and resident of St Dennis, said: "It will turn St Dennis into a ghost town - we're not going to put up with our one-year-old child getting these illnesses."

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VILLAGE NAMED AS SITE FOR £80M INCINERATOR

11:00 - 21 July 2006

The site for a multi-million pound incinerator in Cornwall has been revealed, sparking fury among protesters. After months of intense speculation, council bosses yesterday named the village of St Dennis in Mid-Cornwall as the location for the £80 million waste plant.

On Tuesday, a contract was signed between Cornwall County Council and French company Sita, which will be running the plant. Councillors were split 35 to 28 in favour of the scheme, with four abstentions.

Planning permission for the waste plant at Rostowrack Farm, St Dennis, which will provide around 70 new jobs, has yet to be granted.

Villagers are backing the call from local politicians for a public inquiry.

Although Rostowrack Farm is a greenfield site it can be built on under the Cornwall Minerals Plan 1988 as a site for the development of plant ancillary to the china clay industry.

Protesters last night expressed their dismay over the decision which will see the plant constructed just 400 yards from the village of 2,000.

Lynne Simms, of the St Dennis Against Incineration Group (Stig) last night vowed to fight the proposals.

She said: "We are beyond furious about these plans to ruin our village. I always feared it would be St Dennis. The whole village is angry - we will not take this lying down.

"Before the decision we had between 40-50 members. Now that our fears have turned into reality more people will join us. I've already spoken to around 20 and they are set to join us.

"I think a lot of people thought if they kept quiet nothing would happen to us - but now we have something tangible to fight against the council will see they have made a huge mistake in taking us on."

The group argues that lorries taking rubbish to the incinerator will clog up the roads around the village and will produce harmful emissions damaging the environment.

Jackie Salmon, secretary of Stig, said: "All I can say is I'm very sad. When you think of all the derelict land there is in Cornwall and all the brownfield sites, that they should choose a piece of land which is farming agricultural land at the moment and which is only 400 yards from our village, which has got over 2,000 people in it, is beyond belief."

Grandmother-of-two Sally Lobb, 50, was born in the village and has lived there all her life. She said: "My two grandchildren live a stone's throw from where the council wants this incinerator. I'm terrified about the emissions and what it will do to the children's health. There is already a lot of asthma around here - it's a disgrace the way we are being treated. But we will fight this."

Political groups in Cornwall have also expressed outrage.

But leader of Cornwall County Council, David Whalley, defended the decision. He said: "I sympathise with the people of St Dennis but of course there are some advantages. It will bring new jobs into the area and it will provide some additional employment."

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£80M INCINERATOR DEAL STOKES VILLAGE ANGER

11:00 - 19 July 2006

A multi-million-pound contract to build a controversial incinerator in Cornwall has been signed.

The preferred bidder for the £80 million operation, French-owned SITA, will carry out the work.

Yesterday, after a two-and-a-half-hour private debate, Cornwall county councillors voted by 35 to 28 for signing the contract. There were four absentions.

The announcement as to where in Cornwall the incinerator will be built has yet to be revealed and has sparked fury from protesters, who turned up outside County Hall in Truro, with banners.

It is understood the four possible sites initially considered have now been whittled down to just two, although the council is remaining non-committal.

Coun Jim Currie, leader of the Conservative group, walked out of the debate after his amendment was rejected.

Mr Currie was pushing for the contract to be brought back in front of the council in the event of any changes.

"I'm really disappointed," he said. "We have effectively signed away total control to a private, profit-making organisation.

"SITA will simply do as it pleases now and there won't be a thing the council can do about it - they can rewrite the contract if they so wish. We have been far too rash in this decision and should have taken more time."

Coun Andrew Waters, who voted against signing the contract, said: "I'm not against incineration but there are far too many grey areas in this contract - it needs to be looked at again."

A new company, SITA Cornwall (Ltd), is being formed to manage the contract which will last for 30 years, although the project has yet to obtain planning permission. There has been intense speculation that SITA will site the incinerator near the village of St Dennis.

Last night Lynne Simms, spokesman for St Dennis Anti-Incinerator Group (Stig) vowed to continue the fight to stop the development. She said: "Naturally we're disappointed the vote was passed - but to be truthful it's what we expected. Now that the contract is to be signed the real fight starts."

The group, which has 40-50 members, argues that lorries taking rubbish to the incinerator will clog up the roads around the village and will produce harmful emissions. Mrs Simms added: "Up until now it's been 'well it might not happen' but now the public can see the situation is serious, we expect more support."

But those who back the signing of the contract said it was time to press ahead with addressing Cornwall's waste management problem.

Adam Paynter, the executive member for environment and heritage, said: "Until now, because of commercial confidentiality, we have not been able to provide members with details of the excellent deal that has been negotiated for Cornwall. I am sure that other authorities - which have got less for a higher price - will be envious."

Currently Cornwall landfills around 72 per of its waste, and recycles or composts 28 per cent. In future, just 20 per cent of the county's waste will go to landfill under the terms of the new contract, which includes a requirement for the contractor to recycle all separated waste collected by the district and borough councils. Leader of the council, David Whalley, said: "We are confident that the contract with SITA provides a value-for-money, environmentally sound solution to Cornwall's long-term waste management needs."

Earlier this week Cornwall's five Liberal Democrat MPs demanded a public inquiry into the construction of the site.

The five MPs say Government pressure for a solution to Cornwall's waste, which is being hit by huge costs from the landfill tax, should not lead to a "rushed" solution taken by councillors alone.

Dan Rogerson, MP for North Cornwall, said: "With the landfill tax threatening to impose a huge burden on council tax payers, and tipping land running out in Cornwall anyway, the need for new waste solutions is clear. But Liberal Democrat policy is that an incinerator is the last resort after waste minimisation, recycling, and examining all alternative technology. A full public inquiry would allow every aspect of this proposal to be scrutinised and challenged in public, and independently resolved."

Andrew George, MP for St Ives, said: "While we appreciate a public inquiry is likely to be costly, it is important we have an opportunity to both test many of the assumptions behind this particular solution and to test the resolve of the Government to favour the type of energy from waste technology proposed. Whatever the outcome, it is critical the contract seeks to maximise recycling and efforts to protect the Cornish environment."

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