Schoolboy’s letter to Prince Charles as controversial incinerator planned for Cardiff gets extra consultation time

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A schoolboy has written to Prince Charles asking him to help stop a 24-hour incinerator proposed for Cardiff.

Ben Rogers, nine, posted the letter this week as residents step up their campaign against the £150m energy plant, which could burn as much as 200,000 tonnes of commercial waste a year.

In his letter to Prince Charles Rumney Primary pupil Ben said: “A company wants to build a big incinerator close to our house! I really hope you can help us stop this incinerator being built.”

The letter comes as the company behind the proposed scheme at Newlands Road near Wentloog Corporate Park, extended its deadline for feedback on its pre-application consultation for the third time, this time until November 29.

Môr Hafren Bio Power insists the plant would be safe but said it “had not received enough feedback for a development of this size”.

Ben’s mother Ruth said she and husband Carl are worried about emissions from the site and how it might affect the health of Ben, his older brothers Oliver, 12 and Daniel, 15, and all people in the area.

The family live in Rumney, a couple of miles from the site of the proposed burner.

Ben’s heartfelt letter to the prince

“I am worried about what is going to come out of the incinerator, the things burned and how it will affect air quality ,” said Rumney Scout Group leader Ruth.

“You will also be able to see it for miles around. It will be a blot on the landscape.

“Whatever they burn there will be emissions. I understand we have to deal with waste but this won’t even be local waste and is near homes.”

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A group, calling itself Residents Against The CF3  Incinerator, says emissions from the burner will affect health and is too near homes and schools. Lorries travelling to and from the site will also add to pollution and noise.

Campaigners are also worried about traffic pollution and noise. Môr Hafren Bio Power has confirmed 40 lorries would visit and leave the site each day, six days a week and there would be 36 car journeys, totalling 116 vehicle movements each day.

Campaigners say not enough information has been given to residents about the scheme. They have delivered thousands of leaflets to homes in Rumney and Llanrumney as well as to schools and churches in the last few weeks.

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Armando Di Finizio, headteacher of the local secondary school, Eastern High, which is less than a kilometre from the site of the proposed burner, has also posted a blog raising questions about its safety on the school website.

His blog, which looks at pros and cons of burning as opposed to landfill, says the incinerator would mean 150,000 tonnes less rubbish in a landfill site releasing greenhouse gases  but “I’d like to know what produces more CO2, the incinerator or the landfill site storing the same amount of waste.”

He adds that the burner would be “very big and very visible in the local area” and he wants more information on emissions.

“As a Headteacher, I’m obviously concerned about contaminants and will certainly want to gather the hard facts on this.  I don’t dispute the information local groups have provided, but I want to know amounts and effects on health. Likewise, I want a full list of contaminants, quantities and effects on health from Mor Hafren and Welsh Government.”

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The firm has said the facility “will conform with latest standards and unless we can demonstrate to the authorities that the plant will consistently meet these regulations, we will not be allowed to be operate”.

Barry Brown, 80, and his wife Marilyn Brown, 76, from Residents Against The CF3  Incinerator, are not convinced. They have walked 15 miles delivering leaflets to hundreds of homes in the area, including every house on the Trowbridge estate. They believe many older people are not on the internet and have not had any, or much, information about the proposals.

“I am concerned for my grandchildren and for everybody in the area,” said grandfather Barry.

“They are on about air pollution but what will this be pumping out? Why are they building it here? They think we are low class, if it was Cyncoed it would be a different matter altogether.We are going to fight our corner.”

Grandmother Cath Lee, 58, agrees and is among people in the area to put a banner opposing the incinerator on her house.

Cath, a director of IT consultancy Amdani, said: “I have lived here over 30 years and am absolutely devastated they would think of putting this here.

“I live in New Road, about three miles from the site. I will be able to see it and am worried about pollution.

“They are using this part of Cardiff as a dumping ground.”

Her ex husband David, who also lives in the area and used to work in nuclear power sites as well as oil and gas stations, said: “You have to monitor these things. I don’t trust any of the new generation incinerators. This should not be in a residential area.”

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Môr Hafren Bio Power said in a statement: “Our consultation programme is still ongoing, and we continue to target both local businesses and residents.”

It said it has placed three newspaper advertisements in the South Wales Echo, distributed 7,500 leaflets to residents and information packs to more than 100 nearby businesses.

There have also been four days of public exhibitions and the firm said it has written to, or met with local schools, churches and medical centres as well as meeting with members of the anti incinerator campaign group.

Pete Lawrence, project development manager for Môr Hafren Bio Power, said: “The proposed site on Newlands Road is a brownfield site, on an industrial park, and within a designated development area, and already has planning permission for a waste treatment facility.

“The proposed £150 million Energy Recovery Facility would divert up to 200,000 tonnes of pre-treated commercial and industrial waste from landfill every year.

“Once built, it will generate enough electricity to power up to 30,000 homes – and will be designed to be able to provide heat to a district heat network if one became viable in the future.”

The proposed incinerator will be subject to a planning application (which will go to the Welsh Government) and an environmental permit from Natural Resources Wales.

The decision rests with the Welsh Government,not Cardiff Council, but after the planning application is submitted the council has five weeks to carry out a Local Impact Report.

The company will submit a planning application this autumn, with a planning decision likely in summer 2020.

It is expected that the facility would take two years to build, creating up to 300 jobs during the construction phase and 40 permanent jobs once the facility is operational.

The Welsh Government has previously confirmed planning agreement rests with ministers but said it is not able to comment on specific schemes as to do so “could prejudice any future role Welsh Ministers may have in determining a related planning application”.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Mor Hafren Biopower is undertaking a pre-application consultation. The Welsh Government encourages developers to engage with the community before submitting their proposals. The developer should reflect on the comments it receives from the community and adapt its design in response to any concerns raised.

“We cannot comment on specific schemes as this could prejudice any future role Welsh Ministers may have in determining a planning application.”

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