The Royton incinerator – it's not as clean and green as it sounds

Date published: 27 November 2020


Oldham and Saddleworth Green Party warns that the incinerator for commercial waste proposed for Mossdown Road in Royton is not as clean and green as it sounds.

Called an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) because it converts energy from burning waste into electricity, it is presented as a safe and green way of dealing with waste.

But it poses dangers to residents in surrounding areas and contributes to climate change.

Synenergy, the developers, have not yet completed a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment on the air pollution from traffic to and from the plant and emissions from the chimney.

But a public consultation is being held without this information.

Emissions include chemicals and particles harmful to people and the natural environment which Synenergy will monitor and report on to the Environment Agency.

But areas with ERFs across the country report that the Environment Agency doesn’t act quickly enough on breaches of permitted levels and the sanction system is inadequate.

For some emissions there is no level below which they are totally harmless.

Further climate change threatens all our futures, needing urgent action to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere to net zero.

The electricity generated by the incinerator is being presented as low carbon because waste is dealt with locally and not transported by road across the country.

But nothing is being said about the plant’s carbon emissions from burning plastic and other oil based waste.

Carbon emissions from these incinerators will stop us reaching the government’s 2050 net zero target, let alone Greater Manchester’s 2038 or Oldham Council’s 2030 targets.

Government policy of relying on ERF incinerators means more of our electricity supply will depend on generating waste.

We need to go in the opposite direction and reduce waste: investing in design and production techniques that use less material; more and better recycling; reusing and repairing.

It is calculated that more jobs would be created this way and it would be better for the economy than ERFs.

Denmark has made most use of ERF incinerators to generate electricity and have ended up importing plastic waste to feed them, increasing carbon emissions.

The Danish government now recognises they need to close 30% ERFs to meet climate change targets.

Oldham Council is backing this incinerator saying it will make our borough greener and healthier.

It needs to update its information on ERFs, catching up with recent research showing they are not low carbon energy and with what is happening in Denmark.

In 2018 the Council rejected a planning application for an incinerator on the Mossdown Road site.

It needs to reject the planning application for this one too.

The Oldham and Saddleworth Green Party

The views expressed are those of the author of the letter and not those of Oldham Chronicle.

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