People living near an incinerator site close to Bedford have expressed concerns about emissions to their local councillor.
But the owners of the site say no one has complained to them about emissions or odours since the site became operational in January.
Speaking at a recent full council meeting, Councillor Graeme Coombes (Conservative, Wilshamstead) asked the mayor if the council had any measures in place to monitor emissions at Covanta’s incinerator in Stewartby.
He said: “Residents living in the vicinity of the incinerator have expressed concern recently about emissions.
“Obviously this is not something that just affects people living immediately around Stewartby, but also the wider area Wootton, Wixams, Wilstead, and Houghton Conquest.
“Can the mayor say what measures are in place to monitor emissions from the incinerator to ensure that they are within acceptable limits?” he asked.
Bedford mayor, Dave Hodgson pointed out that the site entrance is in the borough, but the incinerator is in Central Bedfordshire. He added that it would be Environment Agency and possibly Central Bedfordshire Council that would be monitoring emissions.
Councillor Coombes said: “Whilst it might be a statutory obligation of the Environment Agency, I would like to think that this borough is also monitoring emissions from Stewartby and has a plan in place to address it should they be found in breach of acceptable levels.”
A spokesperson for Central Bedfordshire Council said: “We don’t monitor air quality around the incinerator.
“Monitoring of emissions from the incinerator would be regulated by the Environment Agency (EA) under the permit that they have issued to Covanta.”
Neil Grimstone, general manager for the Rookery South Energy Recovery Facility, said: “The new facility has been fully operational since January. As one of the newest energy from waste facilities in the UK, Rookery South is equipped with state-of-the-art emissions control systems and monitoring equipment.
“This allows accurate and independent reporting to the Environment Agency (EA) each month.
“We also transparently display emission figures on the project’s website, and these consistently show that the plant is operating well below the stringent limits set by the EA.
“In addition, the plant’s operational team will continue to keep members on the project’s Community Liaison Panel and Parish Council leads updated on plant operations, emissions monitoring and the electricity generated to power homes and businesses.”
When pressed on residents concerns that were raised with Cllr Coombes, a Covanta spokesperson said: “Since the facility commenced operations in January this year, Rookery South has not received any complaints about emissions or odours.
“However, we are keen to listen and understand any concerns from the public and will be offering Cllr Coombes a site visit in the near future if this would be helpful.”
Cllr Coombes was approached for a comment on Covanta’s offer, but did not respond at the time of publication.
A spokesperson from the Environment Agency said it is not aware of any issues with the plant.
They added: “If members of the public are concerned about a suspected environmental incident at the incinerator they should report it to our 24 hour free incident hotline number 0800 80 70 60 so we can investigate.”
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter