On 10th November 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, COVID-19, Project Genesis Ltd put forward a planning application to Durham County Council. Project Genesis Ltd a private company is proposing to develop an ‘Energy Facility / Energy from Waste facility / Hownsgill Energy Centre / energy recovery facility’ (it has had many names, all those that oppose these facilities call them incinerators) on the land within the Hownsgill Industrial Estate in Consett, Durham, DH8 7EQ. They are proposing to burn 60,000 tonnes of industrial and commercial waste from 4 to 5 local sources/suppliers from County Durham, South Northumberland and Tyne and Wear. They have refused to share with the public whose waste this is or exactly what the waste will be due to ‘issues of supplier confidentiality’.
Incinerators can run for decades and potentially change what waste they burn. Once it is built they have to continue to feed it with waste to produce the energy.
The proposed development says they will incorporate Combined Heat & Power using Refuse Derived Fuel (waste). It is envisaged recipients of heat and power would be on adjacent occupiers on the industrial estate and the forthcoming development to the west (which includes a hospital – not confirmed, there are other potential sites, a care home and a leisure centre).
See further information below and those that support the Say NO campaign.
(AKA Disinformation disseminated by an organisation so as to present an environmentally responsible public image). Through our research into this industry, this appears to be what the ‘energy from waste’ industry does globally at the planning application stage.
Watch this short video to find out the myths and facts
There’s a lot to consider when weighing up the ‘green credentials’ of a waste solution. Client Earth recently commissioned a report by Eunomia Research and Consulting into the medium and long-term impacts of incineration on climate and air quality in the UK.
‘Countries are realising they cannot hit climate or recycling targets when relying on energy from waste… Incinerators produce vast amounts of pollution. They are going to be the dirtiest energy producing technology in the UK. Once coal is phased out, incineration will be the dirtiest form.’
Tatiana Lujan: Environmental Lawyer
Despite the cases put forward for waste incineration, the report illustrates why incineration cannot be considered a ‘green’ or low carbon source of electricity, especially over a 15-year window. In fact, it tells us that incineration will become more carbon-intensive than landfilling in the UK by 2035 as well as a major source of toxic air pollution.
Incinerators are BAD neighbours – noise, ash, traffic, vibration, odours, litter, flies, rodents, emissions.
Unfortunately, we have found many articles about people living near incinerators to say how terrible it is to have an incinerator as a neighbour. Runcorn is one example; they were told at planning stage everything would be fine, then fast forward years later and the local community are taking the waste to energy company to court. We want to prevent this from happening and stop it now.
April 2021, ‘Angry residents who claim their lives have been blighted by bad smells and other problems caused by a huge energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in Runcorn look set to take the site’s operators to court.’
Emissions include dioxins, NOx and ultrafine particulate matter that can be harmful to both human health and the natural environment. There are no safe levels for emissions and no technology that can stop it. There is not enough monitoring, enforcement or transparency by the industry.
“There’s really strong evidence that even small increases in particulate pollution can have a measurable impact on health,” says Aidan Farrow, a researcher at the Greenpeace International Science Unit. “Anything that is going to produce more air pollution in places where people are going to breathe it, there will be a health impact. It’s effectively a political decision of how big you’re willing that impact to be.”
Last year, waste-to-energy incinerators breached their air pollution limits 127 times.
“The limits are there for a reason,” Farrow says. “We have to trust these operators to operate within the guidelines and it’s a really worrying sign if they are not doing so.”
DEFRA, PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION:
There is no safe level for particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5), while NO2 is associated with adverse health effects at concentrations at and below the legal limits.
UKWIN has a website full of information, follow the links to find out more.
Traffic: there will be 22 HGV movements per day carrying waste in and out, across Consett, County Durham and the North East, adding more pollution.
If you live and / or work in Consett, Stanley, County Durham, the North East you will be aware of the existing difficulties with traffic. We do not want or need any more traffic, especially articulated Heavy Goods Vehicles transporting waste, hazardous ash and spent chemicals through our town or across the north east.
North East Local Authorities are well aware of the traffic problems so much so that for the first time they are working together to solve the problem.
Incinerators are 3 times more likely to be built in more deprived neighbourhoods and bear the brunt of the negatives, including poor health.
An investigation by Greenpeace’s Unearthed has found that waste incinerators are three times more likely to be built in the UK’s most deprived neighbourhoods while more than two thirds of the potential incinerators in England are planned for the northern half of the country.
Due to the large scale (22m high, current buildings are only approx 7m high, the 50m stack is higher than Hownsgill Viaduct!) and industrial nature of this incinerator we would experience substantial, adverse and permanent visual effects, bringing unacceptable harm, be detrimental to the setting and to the character of our surrounding landscape of Consett.
Derwent Walk – C2C – Heritage Trail
All flank the proposed incinerator to be situated in between the Terris Novalis and Hownsgill Viaduct
It would be highly visible to users of this recreational route causing substantial adverse, permanent and
therefore, significant effects to users. Not forgetting the noise, odour, litter, ash and emissions!
DCC Landscape advice
‘While the proposed development may resemble the size and scale of surrounding buildings when viewed in plan, it is likely that due to the overall form, mass and height of the proposed 22m high main building, 25m high water storage tower and 50m high emissions stack, the proposal would be incongruent with substantial adverse and significant landscape effects at site level and within 600m of the site, and moderate adverse landscape effects on the surrounding valley and Area of High Landscape Value to the south and south-east, which would bring about unacceptable harm to the character of the surrounding landscape.’
You can find the full report in this link:
Incinerators harm recycling, our air quality and contribute to climate change, they are not better than landfill and they are not green energy! They will be the dirtiest form of energy production once coal is phased out.
9 reasons why we better move away from waste-to-energy, and embrace zero waste instead
‘Incineration results in high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. For every tonne of waste burned, typically around one tonne of CO₂ is released into the atmosphere, and around half of this is fossil CO₂. This means that incineration has a higher carbon intensity than the conventional use of fossil fuels, and significantly higher than what most people would consider ‘low carbon’.
In 2019 the UK’s 53 incinerators released a combined total of around 13.3m tonnes of CO₂e, around 6.6 million tonnes of which were from fossil sources such as plastic. The 6.6 million tonnes of fossil CO₂ released by UK incinerators in 2019 resulted in an unpaid cost to society of more than £450 million.
Even when methane generation from the landfill of biogenic material is taken into account, over its lifetime a typical waste incinerator built in 2020 is estimated to release the equivalent of around 1.6 million tonnes of CO₂ more than sending the same waste to landfill. When electricity generation is taken into account, each tonne of plastic burned at that incinerator would result in the release of around 1.43 tonnes of fossil CO₂
In addition to greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change, incinerators emit many toxins and pollutants that harm local air quality. Emissions include dioxins, NOx and ultrafine particulate matter that can be harmful to both human health and the natural environment. There is not enough monitoring, not enough enforcement, and not enough transparency.’
Property values within 2.5miles of existing incinerators have reduced and those homes closer struggle to sell.
The majority of Consett area is within 2.5 miles of the proposed incinerator. It is likely property values will reduce and property within half a mile will likely struggle to sell.
✊🏻 WASHINGTON campaign WON in stopping the planning application for a monster incinerator to power NISSAN and we have their support! Thank you Sandra, Tracy and David. We can do this together, we need you, please inform others of the truths and object now…. Please go to the about you page to find out how you can help ….
✊🏻 UKWIN also supported Washington’s campaign and support us too. Thank you Shlomo! Please see the link for UKWINs latest update.
Support from our local councillors and MP’s
We have asked our local councillors to send us statements about how they stand regarding the incinerator. All local councillors oppose and one is for. Here are the responses we have received:
We would like to thank all our councillors for their ongoing support in the Say NO to Consett Incinerator campaign.
Councillor Dominic Haney – Lib Dem councillor for Genesis Way, Moorside and The Grove
Councillor Kathryn Rooney – Lib Dem councillor for Blackhill, Consett and Villa Real
“The Liberal Democrat team in Consett have been campaigning against the devastating plans to
build a monster waste burner here since as soon as we were made aware of them. We’ve let
people know about the proposals in our regular newsletters and have encouraged local people to submit their objections to the Council.
The proposals will mean 60,000 tonnes of waste coming into Consett to be torched every single
year. This risks local people’s health, the benefits to the environment of incineration are heavily
disputed, the huge chimney will blight our beautiful countryside, the waste is coming all the way from Teesside, and there will be increased pollution and noise generated from the site and the wagons of waste coming into the town. All of this in exchange for a small handful of jobs.
It is clear that the applicant is heavily overstating the benefits and grotesquely underestimating
the huge costs of building this facility here. Overall this is a catastrophic and irreversible step
backwards for Consett.
Consett’s Liberal Democrat councillors strongly urge you to support the campaign against the
incinerator. Send in your objections to the Council. But remember, the planning committee can only refuse the plan on legitimate planning grounds. Do your research, you may well find angles that others haven’t thought of. You can find some examples of what objections the committee are likely to accept here: https://www.planningportal.co.uk/faqs/faq/4/
Letters from concerned residents in their own words and with their own reasons will be more likely to sway the committee to vote to reject the application. The greater the number of valid reasons to refuse the application, the greater our chance of getting this waste burner sent up in smoke.”
Councillor Carl Marshall – Labour councillor for Stanley. Leader of DCC Labour Group
“As a Councillor in Stanley and Leader of the Durham County Council Labour Group I am wholeheartedly opposed to the Consett Incinerator proposal. Durham County Council already disposes of our household waste as part of a wider regional arrangement. The thought of an unsightly facility processing other people’s rubbish really sticks in the throat. It is my opinion that this scheme has been grossly mishandled by the developer, is unnecessary for the areas plans for growing more and better jobs and would be a blight on the local area. I hope the scheme does not go ahead, it’s clearly designed to make a small number of people a hefty profit than fit with the needs of the local community or the wider County.”
Kevan Jones – Member of Parliament for North Durham Labour
“I share the concerns that many have raised about the impact of these proposals, not just on Consett but also potentially on parts of my constituency such as Annfield Plain and Stanley.
“I’ve been contacted by a number of my constituents who are concerned about this and have simply not been consulted on the potential impact. Before any application is approved wider consultation is needed including with residents in Stanley and Annfield Plain to understand the potential environmental impact of this proposal.”
“As the application itself is outside of my constituency, I have copied the local MP into my objection for information”.
I will also be writing today to those who have contacted me about this to provide them with an update.
Councillor Michelle Walton and Angela Stirling – Conservative councillors for Delves Lane, Templetown, Crookhall, Knitsley and Station Road
‘’As local residents themselves, Michelle and Angela are against the plans for the incinerator. Nearly everyone they speak to is also against it and Michelle and Angela encourage people to submit objections and join the “Say No” group. As a community, Consett is working hard to let the applicants know that this plan is not wanted. It is alarming how many people have not previously been made aware of the plans and the “Say No” campaign are doing a fantastic job in spreading the word and creating awareness. Michelle and Angela fully support this campaign and hope that this community is listened to so the plans are rejected.’
Richard Holdon – Member of Parliament for North West Durham Conservatives
I am 100% behind the campaign of the Delves Lane and Templetown Councillors, Michelle Walton and Angela Sterling.
To give a brief timeline of recent activity on this:
On the Hownsgill development itself, I was first contacted about this late last year and have had several meetings with Council officials about it, including as recently as a fortnight ago. Furthermore I have made my concerns known about the plan and the process at the moment;
Speaking in the debate on Incinerators in Parliament and raising Hownsgill specifically: (Video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=741289046588276)
Video on the Hownsgill site in March with local campaigners, Michelle and Angela: (Video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=929213377831190)
Comments and piece in The Chronicle: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/residents-councillors-mp-blast-plans-20442393
In addition, I have also written to a large number of local people closest to the site about the application and the developer has criticised me for this action: https://www.hownsgillenergycentre.co.uk/latest-news
I will continue to campaign to ensure that the voices of local people are heard on this matter of vital local importance and work with local councillors of all parties and none on this matter who have shown an interest, especially Michelle Walton and Angela Sterling who have made it a real centrepiece of their activity since they were elected and I will continue to raise the matter at a local and national level.
Richard Holden MP
Kevin Earley – Labour councillor for Benfieldside
As the Labour councillor for Benfieldside I have no hesitation in making my position clear that I do not and have never supported the idea of an incinerator . I am currently attempting to get the backing of the council to look at a solar farm or similar, truly green energy solution for the site. I will not be changing my position with regard to the incinerator, it is a step back for the town and to be resisted at every turn.