New Council waste contract means rubbish will end up at controversial Covanta incinerator

Covanta Incinerator at Rookery Pit Artist's Impression
Artist's impression of the Covanta Incinerator at Rookery Pit

Bedford Borough Council is facing criticism today after it awarded a new waste contract to Veolia who will be sending residents’ rubbish to the controversial Covanta incinerator in Stewartby.

Only two companies submitted bids for the contract to treat Borough residents’ black bin residual waste.

Both bids included the waste being treated at an Energy Recovery Facility (incinerator).

Councillor Tim Hill, who represents the Stewartby ward, said, “I am bitterly disappointed, just as I was bitterly disappointed when Bedford Borough Council’s attempts to block the facility at every stage were sadly unsuccessful.

“The development should never have been given the go-ahead, and the way local objections were ignored was disgraceful.

“I fought my hardest alongside so many residents, the Mayor and Liberal Democrat colleagues, and despite the outcome, I do not regret a moment of the campaign to stop this utterly inappropriate, oversized facility from going ahead.

“I want to thank residents once again and to pay tribute to all the volunteers from Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) for their incredible efforts.

“However, very sadly the development is going ahead. It saddens me that local waste will be going to Rookery South, however, if this waste wasn’t going there it would simply mean more rubbish coming from further afield.’

“I will continue to monitor the development works and then the operation of the facility and will insist that any breaches of rules are met with enforcement action and that disruption for our community is minimised.’

“There are no good outcomes following the awful national decisions to approve the development, but I will fight to minimise its impact on Stewartby.”

In a press statement, Bedford Borough Council said that Veolia represented the best option in terms of quality and price, saving the Borough and Central Beds councils over £1m per year.

Cllr Charles Royden, Portfolio Holder for Environment at Bedford Borough Council said, “As a Council we were strongly against this facility being built at Rookery South, which was approved by national government in the face of strong opposition from both local people and the two local councils.

“Indeed Bedford Borough Council provided financial support to try and stop the facility being built.

“Veolia was the company selected under the strict government procurement regulations because they offered best value. The council has no alternative since we need to have in place a way of disposing of our waste from over 75,000 households and businesses across the Borough.

“This is for black bag waste and will not compromise the council’s efforts in increasing recycling going into the future.”

Black bin waste from local residents and businesses will be burned at the Rookery South incinerator to generate electricity equivalent to meet the needs of 112,500 homes, reducing the use of fossil fuels.

Cllr Ian Dalgarno, Central Bedfordshire’s Executive Member for Community Services, said, “The facility at Rookery South was approved by national government in the face of strong opposition from both local people and both councils.

“But in awarding the contract we were also aware that Rookery South’s operator has started to allocate the waste disposal capacity to various waste producers, such as local authorities, and waste could be brought into Bedfordshire from further away.

“Using a local facility means that waste that we collect uses this capacity rather than sending it to facilities further away. Its location in Bedfordshire means we can directly deliver our waste to the plant, lowering emissions from transporting the waste when it becomes operational in 2021.”

Bedford Green Party councillors joined other local representatives to express their disappointment.

“The local community has fought the Covanta incinerator at Rookery Pit hard for so many years and I think they feel let down by central Government,” said Cllr Lucy Bywater.

“It’s not just that the incinerator will be bringing in many tonnes of ‘waste’ material by hundreds of daily diesel HGVs but that it will be creating a particularly toxic pollution and considerable greenhouse gas emissions, whatever the industry ‘greenwash’ says.”

Fellow Green Party Councillor, Ben Foley, added, ‘We urgently a framework of measures to reduce packaging, reduce waste and create a genuinely circular economy in which things that could be repaired, reused or recycled are neither landfilled nor incinerated.”

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