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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 January 2010

Devon - waste incinerator plan shelved

DEVON COUNTY council has quietly shelved plans for a waste incinerator in Barnstaple, North Devon.

Jim Lowe, Chair, Devon Residents Against Incinerators and North Devon Socialist Party

North Devon Socialist Party has been heavily involved in campaigning against the proposals since they were first outlined in December 2008. Alongside Greens, Communists and concerned local residents in Devon Residents Against Incinerators (DRAIN), we have stressed the potential health risks, negative impact on recycling and costs associated with the plans.

While the council have not acknowledged what part DRAIN's campaigning played in their decision, we certainly countered the plans with a weight of evidence, and sought to build popular opposition to the plans through public meetings, leafletting and stalls.

The campaign also sought to make use of the local media. The least fruitful part of the campaign was probably meeting with local Lib Dem MP Nick Harvey and letter writing to councillors, though at least this had the effect of correcting some of the misinformation fed to them by unelected council officials, and making them aware of the significant opposition to the scheme.

Temporary victory

Though this is a victory to be savoured, it is only a temporary one, and a local one. Like the fairground 'bash a croc' game, when one incinerator scheme is bashed, another will likely pop up elsewhere, or another time.

The Barnstaple incinerator plan has only been mothballed, not thrown away. And many other schemes are at different stages of development up and down the country, including in Exeter and Ivybridge in South Devon.

The Barnstaple incinerator has only fallen by the wayside because of cuts to council spending, not because of the dangerous emissions or the effect on recycling.

As well as opposing the incinerator, DRAIN has put forward some positive proposals on how waste might be reduced or used as a potential resource.

North Devon Socialist Party have helped formulate these ideas, but we also stress that they can only really be achieved on the basis of a democratically planned economy, which manufactures on the basis of need, eliminates built-in obsolescence, and encourages reuse as well as recycling.

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