The Socialist 21 July 2009 |
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Devon residents against incinerators: Alternative waste schemes needed
DEVON RESIDENTS against Incinerators (Drain) recently held a stall in the local shopping centre to build popular opposition to the scheme to build a waste incinerator on a flood plain in the middle of Barnstaple. Stalls, leafleting, letter writing and petitioning have built support for the campaign.
Jim Lowe, North Devon Socialist Party and chair, Drain
In the shopping centre, the council was presenting its propaganda, disguised as 'consultation'. Scandalously, people wearing Devon County Council name badges were executives from the private company that wants to build the incinerator, giving a sales pitch!
We changed many people's minds about the plant, which would release dioxins, nanoparticles and heavy metal pollution into a densely populated valley. It would reduce the incentive to recycle waste, burning waste that is recycled at present to feed the monster.
It will also put off tourists, as the noisy eyesore would be the first thing people would see in the town. The electricity and heat that the plant would produce (with 4-5 times the CO₂ emissions per unit electricity of a typical coal-fired power station) will provide a proposed new Tesco store with cheap energy, which angers many people.
The money from this expensive scheme, £40 million, could be invested in a variety of flexible recycling schemes, rather than tied down for 30 years to one, flawed, way of dealing with waste.
More stalls, leafleting and meetings are planned. The planning application will now probably be put off until after the general election, as the Tory district and county councils try to avoid a deeply unpopular scheme costing them their seats. We will keep up the pressure on them for when the plans are formally put forward.
Society's waste problems arise from a wasteful system. Democratic planning and public ownership of the major companies are needed at national and international level to reduce waste by designing and making goods to make them more durable, and easier to reuse and recycle.
Some limited progress is possible under capitalism, but the profit motive makes it impossible to plan production to meet social and environmental needs. Only a socialist system can ensure that we don't have to keep fighting battles to stop local authorities and companies from seeking to introduce incinerator schemes, which sweep the problem not under the carpet, but into the air we breathe.