The protest against incineration at the Welsh Assembly Photo: Chris Brown, Cardiff Friends of the Earth
Campaigners from Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport protested today at the National Assembly of Wales today against Welsh Government sponsored incineration schemes. This comes against a background of council incompetence and incinerator bids collapsing.
The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has concluded that Cardiff County Council's failure to notify and consult local residents and businesses over a proposed waste incinerator in Splott amounts to maladministration. In his interim report the Ombudsman investigator, Steffan Evans, told the Cardiff Against the Incinerator that the Viridor plan is of "considerable importance with potentially significant environmental implications for the immediate and wider locality".
Cardiff Council didn't inform the residents in the Galleon Way apartment blocks and nearby businesses of the planning application. Galleon Way is a short distance from the proposed incinerator site. This led Mr Evans to conclude that "the consultation was inadequate and amounted to maladministration on the part of the council".
He is now wants the council to "revisit its consultation procedure relating to planning applications of this kind so as to avoid a recurrence of the issues arising this case".
However, the Ombudsman said that even if local people had been fully and properly consulted, it would not have added to the 21 different types of objection already lodged against the Viridor scheme.
"It's an astonishing conclusion" remarked Cardiff Against the Incinerator secretary Ed Schussel, "as though 21 different grounds for objection are not enough, while the sheer size of public objection counts for nothing."
He added: "This dismissal of local opinion flies directly in the face of the Localism Bill going through the Westminster parliament and the decision last week of the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, to halt a similar Norfolk County Council scheme because of local opposition."
Mr Schussel urged Welsh Environment Minister John Griffiths not to "lag behind" developments in England.
"It is becoming clear that incineration is an unhealthy, costly and inefficient waste disposal option which undermines recycling" he said.
The Welsh government is offering a £9 million annual subsidy to Prosiect Gwyrdd consortium of five local authorities which will choose next year which of two incinerator schemes to support.
Two weeks ago, Prosiect Gwyrdd suffered a blow when a third bidder, Covanta, withdrew its planning application for a giant incinerator at Brig-y-Cwm near Merthyr Tydfil, blaming "commercial circumstances" relating to Welsh waste policy.