Campaigners against a massive energy-from-waste incinerator planned for Bedfordshire have slammed a drop-in public consultation session hastily arranged by the Environment Agency as an “insult” to residents.
They say only three members of the agency’s National Permitting Service – who will decide whether to grant an operating permit for the plant near Stewartby – were there to listen to the concerns of more than 400 people who turned up.
And they claim that information on display at the Marston Vale Forest Centre on Tuesday – along with an out-of-date 10-year-old map – was misleading and wrong.
Nicola Ryan-Raine, of Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI), said: “The event would appear to be just a tick-box situation. There was a lack of meaningful interaction.
“It was clearly understaffed with many residents not able even to speak to a representative at all. The agency seemed to want to consult with as few a people as possible and the majority of residents left feeling that the decision was a ‘done deal’.
“The only literature to take away was a small hand-out which on closer inspection contained misleading information and residents were insulted by the inclusion of a map that was nearly 10 years old.
“Most people appeared to have no confidence in the Environment Agency and its ability to make decisions based on current information.”
The proposed Rookery South Pit plant would burn 480,000 tonnes of municipal, commercial and industrial waste every year to produce 50MW of low carbon energy, enough to power 65,000 homes.
Campaigners claim it will damage the environment and pose serious health risk, but despite receiving more than 2,000 objections the Environment Agency is “minded” to grant operators Covanta a permit to operate it.
First though a second consultation period will be held and Ms Ryan-Raine is appealing for as many people as possible to object before the October 23 deadline.
She said: “Although the Environment Agency is clearly doing everything in its power to make this second consultation a lost cause, we urge residents to still respond and get more information at www.bedsagainstincinerator.com, join the facebook group or follow on twitter @BedsACI.”