Kids Say NO!

Our future is bigger than the Incinerator!!!

The info: Kids Say NO!

This information page is dedicated to the wonderful under 18’s in our community. We think you should be informed about the proposed Consett Incinerator!

A private company is planning to build an “Energy from Waste” facility in Consett, on the Hownsgill Industrial Park, right next to the Coast to Coast track. We know this as an Incinerator. We are told it will burn rubbish which COULD produce energy to POSSIBLY provide power to some other buildings in Consett.

Check out this link to find out more about Incinerators – there’s a short video lower down on the page which will give you a good, brief understanding of incineration

So why are we so against an incinerator here, in Consett?

Reason 1. It’s size – It’s a monster!

The chimney will be a whopping 50 metres tall –  it will be an eyesore to Coast to Coast users and nearby residents, and will need a red flashing light on the chimney as  a warning to passing aircraft!!!  We live in the midst of an incredible landscape – we do not want a 50 metre tall chimney blighting it. 

Activities to try:

Let’s visualise 50 metres tall:

* Have a walk along our wonderful Coast to Coast cycle track to the Gill Bridge.  Look down – eek! It’s tall.  Maybe have a walk that leads you to the bottom of the Gill Bridge, and look up – woah … It really is tall!   However, The Gill Bridge is actually shorter than the chimney of the planned Incinerator! 

* Using cubes, blocks, lego, coins (anything you can stack on top of each other), we can visualise  just how tall the chimney will be compared to other structures around the site of the planned Incinerator.

Imagine each cube, block etc is a metre.  You could separate cubes into five colours, one for each different structure. 

First, let’s build a house – there are lots of houses in the area.  The average house is around 7 metres tall, so choose a colour (if you’re using different colours) and stack seven bricks together and stand it up straight/vertically.  

Next, as buses are stored at the site, let’s choose another colour and build a double decker bus.  A double decker is around four metres tall so connect 4 blocks.

There are lots of beautiful, tall trees next to the site, which run along the Coast-to-Coast Cycle Route.   The average tree there is around 15 metres tall, so next, make some trees by connecting 15 cubes together.

Other units which operate around the site are around 6 metres tall, so connect 6 blocks and stand them upright. 

Finally, let’s construct the Incinerator chimney … connect 50 cubes and stand it upright next to the other structures and look at how much taller it actually is.   WOWSERS! That would certainly, and sadly, change our landscape.

Questions to ask yourself:

If you were cycling on the Coast to-Coast track and needed to stop off for food or a bed for the night, would you choose to stop where the incinerator is, or stop a little further down the track at a village where the skyline was a little more pleasant?  What is the impact of people choosing not to stay and eat or sleep here?

Reason 2. Tiny particles with a big risk!

Incinerators are often sold as a green, eco-friendly solution to waste.  In fact, the private company who wants to build an incinerator in Consett, has referred to it as releasing only water vapour from its chimney – the suggestion is that all harmful particles will be filtered out, BUT …. Many, many good sources tell a very different story…

Particles called “Nano-particles” (or Naughty Nanos as we like to call them) cannot be trapped, even by the most modern filters, because they are so so so so small! So they escape out of the chimney; then they’re freeeeeee, argh! And because they are so small, they can travel and spread for miles on the wind, moving through the air, bumping into and joining with other Naughty Nanos, creating even Naughtier Nanoparticles.  These Naughty Nanos, cannot be seen, but they are VERY dangerous:

*They can be bad news for our health if we inhale them

*They can contaminate our gardens, allotments and farms where food is grown.

*They can enter the food chain and cause health issues, because animals eat the contaminated vegetation.

Activities to try:

* Let’s have a look at how these teeny tiny Nanoparticules (which are a fraction of the size of the width of a human hair) are masters of escape!

Place a sieve over a bowl.  Scoop several tablespoons of oats into the sieve.  The oats will represent particles from incinerated waste in the chimney, and the sieve will be our filter, trapping the particles being jostled about in the steaming chimney, and stopping them being released.

Give that sieve a shake and you’ll see the sieve won’t let the oats through – they’re too big so they are mostly filtered BUT … look closely in the bowl … Is there any powder? Ohhhh, yes! This is similar to how many, many naughty Nanos escape out of the chimney filters and into the air.  But at least you can see yours … the real ones are invisible, and even more worrying, there are no rules and limited technology to measure just how many are escaping.  Eek!

So, after escaping, the Nanoparticles are airborne and because they are so small, they can unfortunately travel far and wide on the wind, causing many problems.

*See what we mean by trying this activity (WARNING: Make sure you carry this out somewhere it’s ok to get a bit messy or is easily cleaned): 

Take a small scoop of cereal (rice crispies or similar) in your hands then BLOW. Notice how long it stays in the air and where it lands.

Now, do the same with a pinch of baking powder or flour. Look around you and notice how the tiny particles can remain airborne for much longer, and float much further in the air, like Nanoparticles!

Questions to ask yourself:

Do you think that Consett would keep its current reputation for being such a wonderfully natural place, if we had a big incinerator? Would people want to move here? Stay here? Visit?

Reason 3. Incineration harms Recycling … Now this is a BIG one!

It is not at all clear what would be incinerated here at Consett.  This is a real worry.  Waste could contain materials which create really harmful Naughty Nanos when incinerated.  Also, it could include materials which should be dealt with in different ways and recycled.  But we can’t get clear answers.

Also, it’s certainly NOT very clear from the plans where the waste is coming from.  Our household waste, in County Durham, isn’t even dealt with here?! It’s sent off to a different county and this will continue for years to come because this is what has already been agreed.  Crazy stuff!

But what if we all aimed for a Zero Waste model?  Then these incinerators wouldn’t be needed to deal with all this mysterious waste.

Activities to try:

Next time your parents or carers are heading off to the supermarket, maybe this time tag along as an eco-spy!  

Take notice of the packaging on the shelves … is it all really necessary?  Bananas come in their own protective seal and in very handy bunches … do we need plastic packaging?  What about oranges? Fair enough they’re not in such a handy bunch, but could there be another way we could deal with this dilemma? Can you see anything where the packaging could be reduced, swapped for a more eco-friendly material, or removed completely?  Take pictures or make a list.  

Maybe you get your shopping delivered – you could do the same.  Why not offer help to unpack?  Take a look at the packaging.  Can you see the recycling logo on most items? Take pictures or make a list.

Email us with your pictures, lists and stories, along with awesome ideas  to reduce or change these, and we’ll give you a shout out on the “Stay updated” page, and share our ideas with other young people in our community. 


It would be really impressive, if you could write to your local supermarkets or other shops with your findings and your ideas. Send us a copy. 

You are the future – make your voice heard!

Questions to ask yourself:

If rubbish were to be coming from shops and factories, is the waste separated into recycling and are they checked before being incinerated? What is in there?

Reason 4. Many more reasons:

*The increase in large, heavy wagons bringing rubbish through our local area, making accidents more likely.

*Ash, noise, smell, litter …. the list goes on!

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