County council refuses to pause incinerator project and wait for results of major health study
A MOTION calling for the Javelin Park incinerator project to be halted while scientists investigate the possible health effects of the facilities has been voted down.
Liberal Democrat county councillors had proposed delaying construction of the plant until the Health Protection Agency had been able to complete a major new study examining a potential link between emissions and infant deaths.
Preliminary results of the study, which will also look at a possible connection between incinerator fumes and birth defects, are expected to be published in 2014 - a year after building work on the plant is scheduled to begin.
But, Gloucestershire County Council's Conservative administration rejected the plea to pause the project and await the study's findings.
Addressing the Tory group at full council on Wednesday, November 21, Cllr Ceri Jones (LD, Cleeve), who put forward the motion, said: "Surely you would agree that it would be the right thing to do to wait for the results of this vitally important piece of research?"
He added: "All I am asking is that we wait for this authoritative piece of research. I do not want to scare, I want to reassure."
But Cllr Stan Waddington, GCC's cabinet champion for waste, defended the decision to press ahead, exceeding his 5-minutes of speaking time to loud jeers, to insist that the facility would not threaten public health.
Cllr Waddington quoted the HPA's chief executive Justin McCracken who, when announcing the new study, said: "It is important to stress that our current position on the potential health effects of well run and regulated modern municipal waste incinerators remains valid.
"This is that while it is not possible to rule out adverse health effects from modern, well regulated municipal waste incinerators with complete certainty, any potential damage to the health of those living close-by is likely to be very small, if detectable."
GCC's leader Mark Hawthorne backed up his party colleague, accusing opposition politicians and anti-incineration campaigners of falling back on 'Google science' and 'scaremongering'.
"They have tried to scare young families about the potential risks and that sort of politics is outrageous and should be condemned," he said.
However, Cllr Brian Oosthuysen (Lab, Stroud) felt that the Tory group was prejudging the study's outcome.
"How the leader can foretell what the HPA is going to say is beyond me," he said.
Green Party Cllr Sarah Lunnon (Stroud East) said: "Given the lack of proven need for such a large facility, why are we even considering adding to the levels of pollutants in the first place?"