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Norfolk now burns half of its waste - even without an incinerator

PUBLISHED: 09:04 27 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:24 27 July 2018

The waste incinerator at Great Blakenham where much of Norfolk's waste is burnt. Photograph Simon Parker

The waste incinerator at Great Blakenham where much of Norfolk's waste is burnt. Photograph Simon Parker

Archant

It may have never been able to build its own incinerator, but Norfolk has one of the highest waste incineration rates in England.

Protestors against the proposed incinerator near King's Lynn pictured outside County Hall in Norwich in 2011. Photo: Adrian JuddProtestors against the proposed incinerator near King's Lynn pictured outside County Hall in Norwich in 2011. Photo: Adrian Judd

Half of all rubbish produced in the county is burnt, compared to 38pc nationally.

The latest government figures reveal 217,125 tonnes of Norfolk’s waste ended up at incinerator plants between 2016 and 2017.

It follows a national trend which shows more local authorities are opting to burn their rubbish.

The Norfolk Waste Partnership (NWP) says burning waste is both cheaper and more environmentally-friendly than landfill.

But politicians are now warning of an “incinerator boom” which could be harmful to people’s health.

Around 50,000 tonnes of Norfolk’s waste is sent to Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, each year for incineration.

A further 160,000 tonnes is processed into a fuel locally before being exported to incinerators on the continent.

A spokesman for the NWP said: “At present, incineration is the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly way of dealing with the waste we collect in the county.

“The current approach has led to Norfolk having one of the lowest waste to landfill figures in the country.”

In Norfolk, the second most common way of disposing rubbish is through recycling, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Between 2016 and 2017, around 200,000 tonnes of waste was recycled to produce new materials.

And since 2014/15, the recycling rate for the county has increased from 43pc to 46pc.

Just 2pc of Norfolk’s waste is now dumped in landfill.

The Government aims to recycle half of the household waste by 2020 nationally, cutting to 35pc the proportion of rubbish going to landfill.

Suffolk also incinerates half of its waste, just under 200,000 tonnes a year.

Shlomo Dowen, national coordinator of United Kingdom Without Incineration Network, thinks that most of what is incinerated could be recycled, which would reduce the amount of harmful emissions that worsen air quality.

Meanwhile, Baroness Jones, Green Party member of the House of Lords, said: “There is a logic to generating energy from the waste that we cannot recycle or reuse, but it is meant to be the last resort option.

“What we have created instead is a market-driven system of incinerators which constantly need to be fed.”

Plans to build an incinerator near the A47 in Saddlebow finally failed in 2015. It followed five years of protest and cost Norfolk County Council £33m in compensation.

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