Byline: Chris Haines
A SOUTH Wales council has failed to back plans for an incinerator.
A special meeting was held to officially put on record Merthyr Tydfil council's opposition to Covanta's pounds 400m waste incinerator.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of submitting a so-called position statement on the 750,000-tonne-a-year Brig y Cwm incinerator proposals in the county borough.
The position statement read: "While it is recognised that there are some benefits of the project to the borough of Merthyr Tydfil, it is felt on balance, the health, environmental and potential loss of existing and future job opportunities outweigh the benefits of the project.
"Therefore, the council are opposed to the development. This is generally reflective of the views of the community."
The local authority also raised concerns about the health implications of the proposed plant at Cwmbargoed, Merthyr Tydfil.
"There is considerable public concern in respect of both emissions and residuals generally and the effect on both health and the environment," the statement said. "The council is concerned as to the long-term implications to the health of residents from emissions, particularly dioxins and small particle emissions.
"Members of the authority are not technically qualified to determine these issues and are reliant on the professional advice of both officers and their advisors and to those who are nationally responsible for such environmental health issues." But the statement also highlighted the potential economic value of the project, which would burn 750,000 tonnes a year of domestic and business waste. It said: "From an economic development perspective the proposal would generate both direct and indirect employment opportunities in an area of high unemployment.
"More than 500 temporary construction jobs would be created over a two year period when the plant is being assembled, with 125 permanent jobs being created across Wales, 65 of which will be located at Merthyr Tydfil.
"There would also be jobs created and sustained for local supply companies to the business, for example manufacture of sealed containers.
"However, the proposal may deter some companies, for example food processing businesses, from locating in the area if an incinerator is built with the loss of job opportunities."
However, the leader of the Labour opposition in Merthyr council criticised the Independent Group-run council over its handling of the waste incinerator proposals.
Brendan Toomey accused Independent Group councillors of "hiding behind the cloak of pre-determination" instead of expressing their concerns.
"The public's concerns about the proposed incinerator is not merely nimbyism," said Coun Toomey.
"They are genuine concerns for the long-term health and well-being of future generations from Merthyr Tydfil and far beyond. "As elected representatives we are community leaders and as such are expected to lead.
"It is extremely disappointing to note that during the various public meetings held to raise awareness only two members of the Independent Group raised their concerns, the others choosing to hide behind the cloak of pre-determination even though this council is not the determining authority.
"I do not intend trawling over every word of the draft statement dotting Is and crossing Ts other than to say that I fully support it.
"However, I feel this council is reacting to the public concerns when in all reality we should have been leading it.
"If those in control of this council had understood from the very outset that the people of Merthyr Tydfil will not accept any further exploitation from this type of industry then in all probabwww.
ility we would not have found ourselves in the position we do today with the spectre of Covanta hanging over us."…