Ditch the Cardiff waste incinerator

Chimney belching smoke 

Photo: Cardiff Friends of the Earth

The Ombudsman decided that the previous Cardiff council administration was guilty of maladministration because they failed to consult Cardiff people properly on the Cardiff incinerator planning application.

Viridor propose to process the incinerator ash at the site without adequate measures to prevent toxic dust escaping. The planning committee weren't given information about this before they granted planning permission.

A waste incinerator would make it impossible to meet the council's carbon reduction target.

The previous administration agreed to:

  • slow the increase in recycling & composting rates so that waste is available for an incinerator to burn.
  • pay at least £10m a year to an incinerator operator to burn the waste.
  • tie us into a 25 year incinerator contract and supply 35% of the city's waste, even though much of this could be recycled or composted.

Cardiff continues to recycle and compost more than they expected. Recycling and composting rates of 80-90% are possible and cheaper than the 70% agreed to by the previous council.

Better, cheaper and more flexible alternatives to incineration such as Autoclave and MBT are available.

Take action

Tell your councillors to ditch the incineration plan and use a better alternative.

Please copy the letter below, add your own thoughts and name and address, and send it to your local councillors.



Subject: Ditch the Cardiff incinerator


Dear Councillor

You will have heard of the Ombudsman's decision on maladministration by the previous Cardiff Council. He judged there was failure to consult Cardiff people on this major development of wide concern. It appears the Council did not follow their special policy (SPG) on waste facilities.

Viridor proposes to process the incinerator ash in a semi-open building without adequate measures to prevent toxic dust escaping. The planning committee granted planning permission for this without any information being given to the planning committee members on the dust that could come from the process. Environmental Impact Assessment legislation requires this information; the local Health Board rightly identified 'fugitive' dust as an important issue, but the council officers disregarded it and the old planning committee didn't recognise it's significance.

Second, please review incinerating waste as ‘high carbon’ energy. Cardiff wants to be a ‘Carbon Lite’ city; just compare how Copenhagen is restricting waste incineration to cut its carbon footprint, as they don’t count dodgy ‘offsets’ or hide the CO2 from burning household waste as ‘industrial’.

Third, please review Cardiff Council's participation in Prosiect Gwyrdd, because PG propose to tie us into a 25 year contract, committing us to supply the incinerator with 35% of the municipal waste stream, even though much it can be recycled or composted.

Please reject claims by officers that the incineration project has gone too far to be stopped or that large penalty fees would be incurred If all the councils agree to stop, no penalty is payable. Newport's Labour Leader, Bob Bright, and their new council are trying to halt the incineration plan, so let’s see Cardiff joining with them.

The Council Executive agreed last January to go-slow on improving recycling/composting rates. Cardiff is 'over achieving' this year with 53% waste diversion and expects 58% next year. The council's waste projection reaches 58% only in 2015/6 and has very slow improvement in the years after that, reaching 66.6% in 2020 only by including 5% in incinerator ash. This means that the waste projection figures agreed by the Council Executive last year are too low, they should be corrected.

Welsh local authorities that are keen on recycling are mostly planning for 70% this decade, at the latest by 2020. The Welsh authorities’ own report by Eunomia Consulting established that levels of 80-90% were feasible using existing technologies, with 80% being more cost-effective than 70%.

Is the 25-yr contract to supply a minimum waste tonnage a 'necessary evil' as it was called when Ken Livingston challenged it 10 years ago? Cardiff’s 'Guaranteed Annual Minimum Payments' of £10-12 million pa would include high bank finance charges. Veolia and Viridor say they don't need the guarantee for their incineration projects. Autoclave and MBT alternatives are available. A 9-yr MBT contract, as at Avonmouth, is better value than incineration even without the Welsh Government's 25% gate fee subsidy.

Please let me know what you propose to do, now that the new council has the opportunity and duty to review the decision.