The Covanta Incinerator

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Size and Location


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The Main Building will be 43 meters tall – nearly the height of the Cardington Hangers/Sheds.

The Chimney Stack will be 105 meters tall – considerably higher than the remaining Stewartby Brickwork Chimneys which stand around 70m.

The Incinerator will be dominating feature from all parts of the Marston Vale, Millbrook, Ampthill Park and the Greensand Ridge

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The Plant will be sited against the railway line at the edge of the Millennium Country Park/Forest Centre – a local family destination currently attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors a year and in the heart of the Forest of Marston Vale.

The Millennium Country Park incorporates various different wildlife habitats including several wetland areas.   The Central Bedfordshire Nature Conservation Strategy notes that ” ……. there are only about 22.3 ha of discrete reedbed in the county; 20 ha of this was created in 1999 at the Marston Vale Forest Centre”.

The surrounding area is also currently rich with wildlife.  Following some data requests to the Bedfordshire and Luton Biodiversity Recording and Monitoring Centre – BACI learned that from 2014 to end of 2016 (when the request was made) there is official recorded data of 24 Different Bird Red List Species within 1km of Rookery Pit South and a further 5 within 2km and 3 within 4km.  There is also a record of an endangered butterfly/moth within 3km of Rookery Pit South and details of a moth in Ampthill Park which is not found anywhere else in Bedfordshire and the nearest other sightings have been Surrey, Norfolk and Suffolk.

The Country Park also incorporates Stewartby Lake. The Lake is a popular destination for all water sports. and the Millennium Country Park is recognised – and has been for ten years – as one of the best parks and green spaces in the country via the Green Flag Award.

Ironically – the Forest of Marston Vale was one of twelve Community Forests created in the 1990s in partnership between the Forestry Commission, the Countryside Agency and Natural England as initiative to revitalise derelict land scarred by industrialisation.


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The plant will emit a great deal of light 24/7 – in a previously non-lit rural setting.

The plant will emit noise 24/7 – in a previously quiet rural location.

There is also concern that the nearby sensitive water bodies have not been considered in emission controls.

The Vale location increases concerns regarding ‘normal’ dispersion of emissions from the stack due to a weather condition experienced in the Vale know as Temperature Inversion. Please Click to read more about Temperature Inversion events and how the topography of the Marston Vale contributes to these events.

The dispersion of the emissions from the stack could also be affected by the Forest Centre Wind Turbine standing at 120.5m high and located only 250m away from the proposed Incinerator site.

Covanta’s Site Selection

Covanta states that the location of the Incinerator was selected from a list of 340 potential sites.

The reasons for the selection are stated on Covanta’s website as:

“The site was identified as the most appropriate location to develop the project because:

  1. it avoids those areas most protected by policy e.g. Greenbelt.
  2. it is accessible by a suitable road network (the A421), and offers the potential for rail transport in the future. *
  3. it is capable of providing enough space to avoid adverse local environmental impacts.*
  4. it is centrally located enabling the required waste management and energy supply capacity to be provided in a strategically advantageous position.” *

*Point Number 2

  • the 106 agreement with the Councils states that the preferred routes for the HGVs can be suspended if “there is an obstruction to delivery routes set out in the HGV Access and Routing Strategy including but not limited to road works traffic accidents or any incident involving a response from the emergency services that disrupts the operation of the Strategy”
  • the A421 is subject to constant traffic problems that according to the 106 agreement could see the 594 movements of waste/ash HGVs – allowed by planning –  attempting to avoid these inevitable situations by using even more inappropriate roads through our Towns and Villages
  • Covanta paid for a rail feasibility study during the planning process.  It concluded that there were constraints inbuilt into the location that meant following completion of the low level restoration scheme the levels in the pit would limit the ability for sidings to be constructed and thereby ruling out the Midland mainline as not feasible. Looking at the Marston Vale line the sidings length would be limited to 20 wagons and a locomotive, problems with the constraints of the Millbrook water course and the need to purchase third party land meant that this option was ruled as not cost effective.  This is all basic topography etc – would this not have been evident during the site selection process?

*Point Number 3

  • the area around the Incinerator site has already grown considerably in the last few years and currently Central Bedfordshire Council have a proposal for 5,000 new houses to be located in and around Marston Moretaine and Lidlington starting less than a mile from the Incinerator site.  Villages nearby in Bedford Borough also continue to grow and houses in Stewartby are currently also less than a mile from the site.

*Point Number 4

  • recent discussions at the Community Liaison Panel would suggest that current ‘forecasts’ show the majority of the waste used as feedstock for the Incinerator will be coming from South of us.  So we are in fact no longer ‘Centrally located’ to the waste streams.

Health


The following is the list of emissions from the chimney stack that are defined in the current Environmental Permit that have a monitoring requirement:

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Rookery Pit Plume Plotter Animation showing the levels of emissions from the stack if the Covanta Incinerator was already in operation based on wind direction and speed data. Video goes through the whole year of 2016.  If you would like to see where the plume would be right now – Click Here for more.

There is a lack of information regarding emissions from the incinerators chimney(s) and considerable concern regarding long-term health implications given the plants 40 year lifespan.

It has recently been highlighted by UKWIN that there are limitations to the monitoring achievable for some of the most concerning air emissions of incinerators – nano-particles. This has resulted in concern at the accuracy of emission data provided in the UK.

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There is further concern regarding Covanta’s Vale location and ‘normal’ dispersion of these emissions – given the Temperature Inversions events that are experienced by the Vale.

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Bedfordshire Geology Group neither supports nor opposes the Covanta proposals but have allowed BACI to reproduce this topography map from “The Mapping of Landscapes, Geology and Soils of Bedfordshire & Cambridgeshire” by Timothy Farewell, Peter Friend, Martin Whiteley and Joanna Zawadzka. http://www.bedfordshiregeologygroup.org.uk/landforms.html

Please Click to read more about Temperature Inversion events and how the topography of the Marston Vale contributes to these events.

One of the by-products of the Incineration Process is Ash. Accounting for nearly 25% of the original mass burned. A large proportion of this is called Incinerator Bottom Ash.  This bottom ash could end up in Landfill – depending on the contamination levels of heavy metals etc.  A smaller proportion of the Ash is the residue from the filters in the chimney.  This ash is classed as TOXIC waste which will need to be transported to a toxic waste landfill via road through Bedfordshire.

Covanta as an operator has a long documented history of repeatedly being fined over toxic emissions

Traffic


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Planning permission granted in 2013 allows HGV movements of up to 594 a day.

Vehicles would be arriving and departing between 7am and 11pm – 6 days a week down a village road and directly past a Sixth Form College Campus.

The village road in question has a level crossing before the entrance to the Incinerator site.  This will result in queuing of HGV’s stopped by the level crossing whilst both entering and leaving the site.  The rail line in question is also due to become part of the new East-West line and therefore will see increased rail traffic on a daily basis – resulting in more stoppages of HGVs attempting to enter or leave the plant.

The volume of HGVs and associated traffic needed to sustain such a large scale industrial area will be beyond the capacity of the roads in this area.

There are also additional concerns about what happens when there is an issue on the preferred routes for the HGVs.

The 106 agreement with the Councils states that the preferred routes for the HGVs can be suspended if “there is an obstruction to delivery routes set out in the HGV Access and Routing Strategy including but not limited to road works traffic accidents or any incident involving a response from the emergency services that disrupts the operation of the Strategy”.  The A421 is subject to constant traffic problems that according to this agreement could see the 594 movements of waste/ash HGVs – allowed by planning –  attempting to avoid these inevitable situations by using even more inappropriate roads through our Towns and Villages

Other Concerns


Covanta’s Development Consent Order does not define a catchment area.

In contrast to land fill – Incinerators need feeding the same amount of waste from Day 1 to Year 35- 40 to be economically viable.

This has the potential to damage the push for increased recycling.

Consultancy Eunomia reported in 2017 that the UK’s capacity to burn waste had doubled since 2010 – but the amount of residual waste suitable for Incineration had dropped from 30 million tpa to 28 million tpa.

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Thank you for your support

More Information

https://mmetag.wordpress.com/covanta-proposal/ – Marston Moreteyne Action Group lots of information dating back to 2010

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkb6CsbMLfI  – Marston Moreteyne Action Group slideshow showing main points and including photos of Covanta Balloon flying exercise and other associated illustrations