On Monday night (April 11), Labour councillors in Plymouth asked the Tory-controlled council to look at alternatives to incineration rather than press ahead with plans to build a multi-million pound incinerator that will burn truck fulls of rubbish in the heart of the city.
The response by top Tory, Cllr Ian Bowyer, as reported here in the Plymouth Herald, is not only disappointing in highlighting the playground politics of one of Plymouth’s most senior councillors, but is also factually wrong. Cllr Bowyer described abandoning incineration and moving to alternatives to incineration, as suggested by Labour, as “hare-brained”.
Far from being “hare-brained” as the Tory councillor who also holds the rather grand title of ‘Cabinet Member for Finance, Property, People and Governance’ suggests, alternatives to incineration are real, workable AND being used by Conservative-run councils all round the country.
The fact that Cllr Bowyer seems such a stranger to this truth is no surprise. His council stubbornly refuses to consider any alternatives to burning rubbish. His council presides over one of the worst recycling efforts in the country and far from seeking to remedy this shameful stain on our city’s reputation he and his council have not even considered alternatives to throwing black bin bags into a big hot and needlessly expensive furnace. It is simply staggering.
He and his Tory colleagues would, on balance, be forgiven if this technology was experimental or requiring a leap of faith to pioneer. But it is not. Alternatives to incineration are workable and being deployed as an alternative to landfill and incineration nationwide.
A quick google search produces this rather eloquent press release from those leftie radicals on Surrey County Council, the Mole Valley Conservative Association, who gush with praise for the council’s decision to turn its back on incineration in favour of increased recycling and anaerobic digestion. Perhaps, Cllr Bowyer would like to explain to these particular “hare-brained” Tory colleagues of his why their approach is so pie in the sky as he suggests it would be in Plymouth.
The truth of the matter is that Plymouth’s Tory Council is refusing to consider alternatives, having committed itself to a course of action and are resolutely determined that public opinion, facts and workable alternatives will not alter their blind determination that burning is best.
We need to challenge the fallacy being propagated by the Tory councils in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay that there is no alternative to incineration. There is, they are just not considering them.
My message to Cllr Bowyer is simple: ring up a few of your Tory chums in other councils around the country, ask to visit their anaerobic digester or ask to see how they manage recycling rates nearly double that of Plymouth’s and then return to our city with a solution fit for the 21st century not gutter-politics put downs and waste policies that should be condemned to the past.