The King’s Lynn Without Incineration campaign doesn’t want to see waste burnt anywhere and in any way. The most eminently combustible materials like plastic, paper, wood and other organics are also the best for recycling. When asked in 2008 by the county council’s Future of Waste in Norfolk survey, those who responded said we wanted recycling and composting more than any other option.
If that wasn’t enough of a clue, in February 2011, 65,516 of us said “No” to incineration in a local poll.
That should have been the end of the incinerator; it is not just a matter of common sense and decency but international law. Why? Because the UK is a signatory to the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (25 June 1998).
The convention, enshrined into UK law in 2005, recognises “the right of every person of present and future generations to live in an environment adequate to his or her health and well-being.”
It requires that “due account is taken of the outcome of the public participation.”
I fail to see how dismissing such an overwhelming public response can be considered taking due account.
Accessing information hasn’t been easy either. Campaigners have been given a real run around when it comes to Freedom of Information Act requests. One example is that the data sets and parameters for the air quality modelling were only released by the Environment Agency to KLWIN shortly before the end of the public inquiry. This was far too late for the campaign group to make use of them in its representation.
The independent report compiled by the QC Jonathan Acton-Davis, into the incinerator contract is overdue. Will this be placed into the public domain unabridged?
I know only too well the difficulties in pursuing justice in environmental matters. The judicial review of the decision to award the incinerator contract cost £15,000 in legal preparation fees (despite the barrister working free) and another £15,000 towards county’s costs.
Mercifully, Cory Wheelabrator was denied its request for a further £68,000. I understand that adverse costs in environmental cases have since been capped at £10,000. However, the financial risks involved hardly makes justice accessible.
Incidentally, the National Audit Office is reviewing Norfolk’s PFI incinerator contract, along with two others, “to gain insight into the role of Defra in promoting value for money in such projects”.
Aarhus compliance concerns are not just limited to the King’s Lynn’s incinerator. United Kingdom Without Incineration Network has set up its Aarhus Case Studies Project to build an evidence base for violations across the UK.
More information can be found online at https://sites.google.com/site/aarhuscasestudies/
As a final note, the campaign would be grateful if readers could find the time to write to Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP (Environment Secretary) and Nick Bowles MP (Planning Minister).
Template letters are accessible via www.klwin.com and www.farmerscampaign.org