Once Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) had signed the 25 year contract for Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) to build a Mass Burn Incineration (MBI) plant at Javelin Park near Stonehouse, the fuse was lit for a protracted battle which pitched corporate interests against those of the ordinary people of Gloucestershire.
The heroic battle led by GlosVAIN has exposed the true costs of such a project; including toxic ash, high CO2 emissions, increased health risks and potentially recyclable, biodegradable and reusable material being incinerated. A confidential report commissioned by GCC showed that out of the 190,000 tonnes of waste the facility plans to burn each year, 127,300 tonnes could be recycled, composted or reused.
Prospective Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate for Gloucester, Sue Powell says: ‘most people would agree that burying waste in landfill is not a sustainable activity but there are viable and preferable alternatives to mass incineration’. UBB themselves have signed a contract with Essex County Council to build a Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) plant because it is ‘the most appropriate residual waste treatment option’. MBT plants sort through waste and extract recyclable, compostable and reusable materials, making them more efficient and environmentally friendly.
The campaign involving thousands of people forced GCC Planning Committee, Stroud District, Gloucester City and Cheltenham Borough councils to oppose planning permissions for the incinerator. However the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles sided with the interests of big business and overturned objections.
The scrapping of the GCC contract with UBB and using better alternatives could mean long term savings of up to £250 million, even if compensation was paid, but why should a huge corporation be compensated for a project opposed by thousands. Private corporations should play no role in the provision of public services. An integrated plan of recycling, reusing and composting waste, publicly owned and under the democratic control and management of the workforce alongside community campaigns, environmental scientific representatives and others could ensure our sustainable future energy needs.
But it not just our environmental future that is at stake, as today GCC will also agree its budget.
Last year £3 million was slashed from the budget, meaning cuts to adult and elderly care and Children’s Centres. Labour and the Liberal Democrats abstained on this Tory cuts budget. County services such as libraries and youth centres have been devastated in recent years. We need councillors who will stand up to government cuts, helping to build campaigns to oppose them and supporting industrial action to defend jobs, pay and services. A 24 hour general strike involving public and private sector workers would send a serious message to the government and could be the spark to start a generalised movement against privatisation, public sector cuts and pay cuts.
The election of the anti austerity party Syriza in Greece this year has shown that people will support anti cuts and anti austerity policies when a lead is given. Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates will be standing around the county and will oppose all privatisation plans and all cuts to council jobs, services and conditions.
Contact Socialist Party:
Chris 07810 732379 or Sue 07947 632437 http://www.socialistparty.org.uk
Printed & promoted by Chris Moore (agent) 3 Upper Dorrington Terrace, Field Rd, Stroud GL52JE