Thursday, 31 March 2016

European Investment Bank faces criticism over financing Cardiff Viridor incinerator

European Investment Bank faces criticism over financing Cardiff incinerator

Charos Pix Creative Commons
Cardiff Viridor Incinerator – photo by: Charos Pixsome rights reserved
Matt Franklin, Communications & Programmes Officer
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has been heavily criticised for its role in the funding of an incinerator owned by Viridor in Cardiff. The bank is expected to finance the incinerator to the cost of £110 million in what the local group Cardiff Against the Incinerator (CATI) have called a ‘corrupt decision’ and a ‘disgrace’.
The incinerator which will burn 350,000 tonnes of waste annually, producing 70,000 tonnes of ash, has previously demonstrated poor levels of performance, with ‘plasticky’ smells being reported in homes 2-3km away from the facility. They have been forced to install magnetic equipment after failing to remove metals from the ash, and have been ‘forced to stop’ the processing of ash, due to the uncontrolled spread of toxic dust and pollution from the ash.
“We are disappointed to read that the EIB is still supporting incineration projects. The EIB should be supporting the circular economy and removing waste from the residual stream, not perpetuating outdated technologies that result in the lock-in of valuable resources into the bottom tiers of the waste hierarchy.”
As the new Circular Economy package is adopted by the European Commission, it is a timely reminder that we need to be moving our waste management processes up the waste hierarchy and focussing on keeping our material resources in use through reducing consumption and conserving materials, and reusing and recycling product waste rather than burning resources and producing toxic by-products.
The EIB’s response to Shlomo Dowen’s complaint demonstrates their continued perpetuation of the industry myths around waste incineration. The EIB claims that ‘this facility will allow vital renewable energy to be recovered’ a myth that Mike Brown, Managing Director of Eunomia has called ‘dangerous’ and ‘needs to be stamped out before yet more public money is spent on incinerators’.
The EIB’s support for incineration, and the subsequent landfilling of toxic ash is not a new phenomenon and has been highly criticised by a wide range of sources. In 2008 EEC Bankwatch released a report ‘Fuelling the Fire’ blaming the EIB for undermining efforts by decision-makers to develop ‘further waste prevention, reuse and recycling policies’ in contrast to EU policy which supposedly ‘privileges prevention, reuse and recycling instead of incineration’, and has led the financial support of dozens of incineration based waste projects over the past 15 years.
Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of UKWIN
Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator for UKWIN
The EIB’s support for incineration not only ignores the waste hierarchy and the need to put the EU’s investments in line with the EU objectives and in compliance with EU law, but also ignores that the UK over-uses incineration as waste treatment. An analysis of British statistics on municipal waste management in the last 10 years corroborates that. Despite incineration remains at the bottom of waste hierarchy, it has increased spectacularly in the UK in the recent years, from 8% in 2005 to 27% in 2014, according to Eurostat figures. And while it is true that landfilling has decreased, figures show that by every 100 kilos of Municipal Waste diverted from landfilling between 2005 and 2014, 51 went to incineration and 49 to recycling.
If we are to truly move towards a zero waste society, and take waste management up the waste hierarchy and into the realms of prevention and reuse, it is essential to stop financing false solutions, and it is even more essential that public investments, which are limited are allocated for those projects making a transition towards a circular economy happen.

Viridor energy from waste incinerator at Splott to get £110m finance from European Investment Bank

Saturday, 5 March 2016

CATI condemns Euro funding for the Cardiff Incinerator

The EIB announcement is here and the Walesonline/W.Mail/Echo report is here
Draft decision of the Euro-Investment Bank shows pro-incineration corruption
Incinerating waste is contrary to the circular economy, where we re-use materials of end-of-life products.  “Recovering energy” is a hoary old myth, as the ‘recovery’ is far less than the recovery of materials and CO2 emissions are maximised.
The EIA says “waste is being transformed into vital renewable energy”, an ignorant statement when huge volumes of fumes and CO2 are emitted and 70,000 tonnes of nasty ash is produced per year.
Viridor’s incinerator is badly inefficient in energy terms, about 22%, far from the 60% of ‘high efficiency combined-heat-and-power’ plants that the Welsh government decided should be the aim. The company claims to a future heat-piping system to use the 78% wasted heat energy have come to nought.
The Viridor contract with Cardiff and other local authorities is in fact set up to burn recyclable materials.  80-90% of the municipal waste stream can be recycled, 70% was set as the minimum in  Welsh government targets, but Viridor’s contract builds in a maximum of 65% recyclables.
Viridor’s Cardiff incinerator performance has been poor.  The plume comes to ground, shown by a plasticky smell from potentially toxic compounds in homes as far as 2-3km away.  Viridor failed to extract metals from the ash, and had to put in magnetic equipment under enforcement (by NRW, Natural Resource Wales in April 2015).  Viridor did not set up re-use of the ash, but sent huge amounts to Lamby Way tip (about 50 000 tonnes from January to Sept.) until the tip was full.  Since then, Viridor has been paid £60 000 per month to truck out the ash to England, contrary to the proximity principle of waste management policy.
The EIB belief that the Viridor incinerator ‘reflects Cardiff’s environmental commitment’ is quite false.  The Council started processing the ash on Lamby Way site, unlawfully, but were forced to stop because they could not control the spread of toxic dust and pollution from the ash (Incinerator campaigners hit out over Lamby Way ash dumping).   Cardiff are trying to escape the 70% minimum recycling level by offsetting it with incinerator ash aggregate, which European legislation excludes.  They are also trying to offload Viridor’s incinerator ash to Barry Dock, with lengthy lorry trips though the city and Dinas Powys. (Barry action in High Court against ash dump 

It’s a disgrace for the EIB to invest in such a bad facility, adopting the propagandist arguments of self-serving officials.  We call on Welsh politicians to condemn this and set up an inquiry on how the Welsh Government came to support and subsidise incineration at such a bad plant.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4th March 2016

CATI has written to political leaders in the Senedd, asking them to question the EIB investment in this un-green project, contrary to the EIB mandate.  CATI has also asked Jill Evans MEP to raise the issue with the Bank and to seek disclosure of the biased reports from the Welsh Government on the Viridor project.

ANNEX – UKWIN (United Kingdom Without Incineration Network) writes to EIB (vice-president Jonathan Taylor 3 Mar 2016.

We are disappointed to read that the EIB is still supporting incineration projects.

The EIB should be supporting the circular economy and removing waste from the residual stream, not perpetuating outdated technologies that result in the lock-in of valuable resources into the bottom tiers of the waste hierarchy.

There are no guarantees that the feedstock would not be reduced, re-used and recycled given appropriate education, collection, sorting and treatment infrastructure. Furthermore, there is already more incineration capacity built and under construction in the UK than there is genuinely residual waste to burn.

"We have to have a circular economy concept, so it’s highly important that we’re pumping back materials into the economy rather than burning or burying them." – William Neale, then member of cabinet for European Environment Commissioner Janez Poto─Źnik with responsibility for waste.

The EIB should cease all unsustainable investments in harmful technologies, including incineration, and attempt to de-fund any incineration projects (including gasification and pyrolysis) already funded so as to allow for a rapid move towards a more circular economy and a recycling society.

Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of UKWIN

Friday, 30 January 2015

Cardiff Council in league with Viridor over Incinerator Ash

Cardiff Council in league with Viridor over Incinerator Ash

Cardiff Against The Incinerator - CATI were alerted over the growing hillock atop the landfill since early January, with excavators, dumper trucks and conveyors working it.
Thousands of tonnes of Incinerator Ash dumped at Lamby Way

Lamby Way tip, worked by two excavators
The Council is now spreading hundreds of tonnes of incinerator grate-ash on the Lamby Way tip, even operating a conveyor in the open it appears, creating clouds of dust.  Of course the Council claim no dust blows off-site, yet a Cardiff University study a few years ago found ultrafine dust from normal landfilled materials.  
 They claim it's not toxic, but the Cardiff University study showed the ultrafine dust to be harmful to human cells. So CATI arranged a visit to the site, questioning the landfill manager and establishing this is bottom ash from Viridor’s. 

CATI’s delegation was taken up to see the operations on Wednesday 28th January.  A large amount of metal is visible in the raw ash, from cans to large pieces from industry.  This despite the requirement on Viridor to separate metal from the ash in their works.

 It’s a large operation – over 200 tonnes per day (10-20 lorry loads) of incinerator ash, still warm and steaming, are coming from Viridor.  The peak day has been 600 tonnes.  This is to continue for 9 months (at least), some 70 000 tonnes.  Despite the requirement on Viridor to recycle all the ash, as construction fill or building materials, the Council is taking the ash and profitting by  £150 000.

Ash screening machine, with pile of wet ash
building mid-picture, the metal and clinker
separated out
Cardiff has brought in a private company to screen metal from the ash; the shaker-riddle and conveyors appear to deal with with only part of the incoming tonnages. The Council say the metal screening is cost-free; sale of the dirty metal pays for the operation, the Council sharing in the profits.

Refusal to allow pictures
Lamby Way’s Manager, Paul McGrath, refused to let us take pictures or samples, despite their being a public body.  CATI considers the Council has a duty to be open and has no right to control photos of what we the public can see.  We’d challenge them – what have they to hide?  If it’s the extent of their collusion with Viridor, then this deserves full exposure.

In this case, we didn’t need to hire a drone to photograph it from above, as the operations can be seen through binoculars and a good camera can take pictures from outside the site.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

High Court Judge rules against CATI

After repeated delays the High Court Judge rules against CATI - we will appeal
There is already a copy available here 

CATI are disappointed that judge Wyn Williams has turned down the application in Pauline Ellaway's name to quash the planning permission granted by Cardiff in February 2013.  Important points are overlooked in the judgement.
Pauline said she'd rather expected a negative judgement from the judge's questioning at the hearing in Cardiff High Court on 17-18 December, adding that she'd preferred the specialist judge who had been first nominated to hear the case.
The lawyers - Alex Goodman plus Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law firm - advise that the case should be appealed and are putting in an urgent request for continuing funding for the Appeal Court stage.  
That companies could build without planning permission and the public authorities could delay any action to stop the unlawful construction for over six months would be a big hole in planning law if allowed to stand.

The Viridor application has higher status as “EIA-development” and is subject to European planning law.  Breaching this law means the case could proceed to European level.

Granting retrospective permission for much lesser EIA-works, without securing evidence on those works, was quashed recently (HHJ Mackie QC on Padden, 22 Jan’2014) by a High Court judge in England.   

After this start in the Cardiff High Court, CATI are hopeful the case will be won at the next stage.

CATI activities

Activities ongoing 
1.  Complaint to Ombudsman re. Cardiff’s falsification of Planning Cttee decision.
An outline complaint made to the Council is awaiting a reply.
2. High Court case.  Still no announcement of the result.  But another High Court decision quashing retrospective approval of EIA-=development gives us hope the same would apply to Viridor. (see below) 
3. State Aid – application to Europe together with FOE Cymru and SNIC (Newport) to be re-submitted with a strong argument on our ‘interest’ in the case.  Perhaps a Petition on the Assembly website would give it prominance and help win politicians’ support.
4. Objection to Cardiff Council’s Auditor – 
  • the 25-year contract was signed without due diligence, relying on PG’s unqualified personnel and Russell Goodway.
  • the cost is far above best-value levels secured by other Councils £100 per tonne compared with £60-80 per tonne for similar English incinerators (25-yr)
  • Cardiff Officers and Cabinet accepted PG’s excessive waste projections that ignore Cardiff’s target for waste prevention etc. 
  • Cardiff Officers and Cabinet failed to get PG to consider better (cheaper; more flexible)  technologies now available, being adopted elsewhere. 

5. Discharge of Cdn 4 on remediation  13/02600/DCO - Public Consultation
New Notice posted 12 Feb. (date 20 Feb) announcing new late data, extending the consultation time for 21 days from the published date.  The officers have failed to explain data that’s still lacking and  failure to meet promises of Remediation/verification reports .
6. Lorries to the Viridor Site – were they responsible for the death of the cyclist on Toxic Ave?

Another High Court decision quashing retrospective approval of EIA-=development gives us hope the same would apply to Viridor.
The High Court (HHJ Mackie QC) today quashed a planning permission for EIA development granted by Maidstone Borough Council which, inter alia,  authorised the retention of 100,000’s of tonnes of construction waste that had been imported onto land without planning permission in order to form raised fishing lakes: R (Paddden) v Maidstone Borough Council. The importation was having adverse effects on the home of the Claimant including causing groundwater flooding.
The learned Judge found, applying Case C-215/06 Commission v Ireland [2008] ECR I-4911 and R (Ardagh Glass Ltd ) v Chester City Council & Others [2011] P.T.S.R. 1498, that the Council had failed to consider the question of whether there were exceptional circumstances to justify the grant of permission. He also found that in granting permission the Council had unlawfully failed to make reasonable enquiries to try to obtain the factual information necessary for its decision on the application and that officers had failed to report to Members concerns about a proposed condition to deal with ground water flooding which had been raised by the Environment Agency.
James Maurici QC appeared for the successful Claimant instructed by Dechert LLP.

Viridor workers hospitalised after pollution spill

Pollution Event hits Workforce on Viridor’s Waste Incinerator in Warrington
Cardiff people should be warned by the pollution event at Viridor’s new plant in Warrington, says Cardiff Against the Incinerator (CATI).

Viridor workers hospitalised after pollution spill
The emission of very fine dust particles of lime causing irritation to the eyes and respiratory problems led to 17 hospital cases, fortunately not too serious.  This was during commissioning of the plant, though very fine fly-ash particles will be similarly high in lime. 
Max Wallis, on behalf of CATI said:   Viridor’s plant in Splott is due to reach a similar commissioning phase in the next 6 to 12 months, unless the High Court put a stop on it.  Local people need to be warned – these incinerator plants emit as well as fumes much hazardous dust particles that are poorly controlled.
Rob Griffiths (CATI chair)  58 Janet St., Splott, tel 07790 884137
David Prosser (Press) 029 20791993 or 07504 323422
Max Wallis  (Planning/Legal)  07714 163254

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

High Court decision deferred till New Year

The High Court case concluded at 1pm today, with the Judge Wyn Williams adjourning his decision until some time in January.  Yesterday, we had good coverage on BBC Wales and today an article in the Echo:
Barrister Alex Goodman whose acting on behalf of CATI’ Pauline Ellaway told the Judge that Cardiff council had flouted regulations and allowed waste management firm Viridor to build in Splott when it should not have done so.
Dubbing the council’s actions “procedurally inept” he claimed the authority’s reports and consultation process were flawed and that it failed to stop work when it should have.
Mr Goodman said CATI’s “submissions fell on deaf ears because work was allowed to proceed.  No robust action was being taken in respect of development that was continuing apace.” 
Best thanks to our Pauline for staying the course!