CONTROVERSIAL proposals for a £500 million incinerator at Javelin Park should be scrapped to protect the health of thousands of children across the county, a new report compiled by a protest group says.

Gloucestershire Vale Against Incineration (GlosVAIN) is demanding that Gloucestershire County Council abandon plans for the facility because of the potentially harmful impact of emissions on infant health.

This week the group – a non-party-political partnership composed of parish and town councils, environmental organisations and residents – published a 15-page report drawing attention to the location of schools and other educational establishments in relation to the proposed site near Haresfield.

In response, Stan Waddington, GCC cabinet champion for waste, accused the group of 'morally unacceptable behaviour'.

The report - called Schooling in the Shadow of the Incinerator - identifies 140 schools and other establishments, such as playgroups and nurseries, attended by 20,477 children, within five miles of the site.

That figure includes 9,253 primary school pupils – 97 of whom attend Haresfield Primary School, which is less than a mile away.

The group calculates that there are 43,282 youngsters either at school or attending other educational establishment within 10 miles.

In fact, according to the report, almost half (49 per cent) of all schools and other educational establishments in the county are within 10 miles of the site, including 208 early years centres and 122 primary schools.

The report claims children and infants are especially vulnerable to incinerator emissions.

It points out that the Health Protection Agency is currently funding research to explore a possible connection between incinerator fumes and health issues, such as infant deaths, still births, low weight babies and birth defects.

GlosVAIN chairman Sue Oppenheimer said: "We have a duty to safeguard our children’s futures and we are therefore calling on GCC to immediately withdraw its plans and to re-evaluate less potentially harmful alternatives."

Responding to the concerns, Cllr Waddington said: “I wholeheartedly welcome informed debate on the future for our county’s rubbish. However, I consider targeting children and young people in such a way, making emotive and unsubstantiated claims about their health and safety, morally unacceptable.

“The company designing, building and operating the proposed facility, Urbaser Balfour Beatty, has an excellent track record and has recently submitted applications for planning permission and an environmental permit.

“Both of these applications involve in-depth scrutiny of any potential impact on human health and the environment and can be viewed at"

GlosVAIN has also written to the heads of 294 schools.

"If the incinerator is allowed to go ahead, today’s Gloucestershire children will become the 'Incineration Generation', growing up side by side with a huge industrial installation… and suffering its consequences," they write.

GlosVAIN, which says viable alternatives to incineration exist, has published an interactive map at showing the proximity of schools in relation to the site.

It has also uploaded an objection letter which can be sent by email to GCC.

As part of the planning process, a public consultation is underway which finishes on April 17 - go to the GCC website to take part.

At their monthly meeting on Monday night, Stonehouse town councillors agreed to hold an emergency meeting at 7pm next Monday, April 2 to formulate a response to the consultation.