Thursday, 21 February 2008

Oxfordshire Climate Alliance takes on County incinerator proposals

Carbon dinosaur - letter to Oxford Times

Sir - The Oxfordshire Climate Alliance - representing the groups listed - wishes to express its great dismay at the county council's decision to limit the choice of technologies for the future of waste treatment in Oxfordshire to incineration.

Contrary to the council's own Carbon Action Plan which promised to "herald the start of serious action to cut carbon", a shortlist of waste treatment companies being considered for a 25-year contract appears to include only proposals for the sort of incinerator that gives off higher climate emissions than a gas-powered station and is almost as poor as a coal-fired station for generating electricity. The council's bias towards incineration is particularly puzzling as there exists a far superior and climate-friendlier technology for dealing with waste. Called Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT), it is currently in use in 70 places in Europe - six of these in the UK, with more being installed.

As bad as relying on a carbon dinosaur to treat waste and generate power is locking the county into a 25-year contract. Recently, central government calculated a notional shadow price for carbon to include in financial costings of infrastructure projects. The 2007 price was £25.50 a tonne of carbon, rising to £59.60 a tonne by 2050.

While the council might dismiss such a cost now, both the current Climate Change Bill, which intends 60-80 per cent cuts in greenhouse gases by 2050 and further international climate talks make it increasingly likely that the pricing of carbon emissions will become a reality over the next 25 years.

With these facts in mind, the Oxfordshire Climate Alliance respectfully urges the county council to investigate both the environmental and economic advantages of Mechancial and Biological Treatment over incineration.

Colette Humphrey, Banbury Friends of the Earth; Maureen Dryoff, Chinnor and Thame FoE; Maranda St John-Nicolle, Christian Concern for One World; Mim Saxl, Climate Outreach and Information Network; Nathan Shipstone, Oxford Brookes People and Planet; Karl Wallendszus, Oxford Friends of the Earth; Kevin Meaney, Oxford World Development Movement; Martin Hodson, Sage: Oxford's Christian Environmental Group; Simon Pratt, Sustrans; Jill Haas, Oxford Campaign Against Climate Change