The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
Ten Minute Rule Bill
Posted Tuesday, 6 April 2010 at 17:17

Here is my Ten Minute Rule Bill speech that I made in the House today about the Covanta Energy from Waste proposals:

 

'Mr Speaker, I beg that leave be given, to bring before the House, a Bill to require planning authorities to conduct a local referendum before considering planning permission for new large-scale waste recovery or disposal facilities which involve the recovery or disposal of waste from more than one county area; to insure that planning authorities and the Secretary of State must not grant planning permission, if the result of such a referendum indicates that local people do not wish a facility to be developed and for connected purposes.

 

Mr Speaker, in the last ten years society has dramatically altered.

 

Twenty-four hour access to rolling news and media, widespread and easily available access to the internet, means that today’s individual is far more enlightened in terms of information than ever before. People are very aware of what is happening within their own communities and where their money is being spent.

 

If a community requires more homes, a school or hospital, traditionally developers would have worked with local councils and provided the solution.

 

One could argue that, via the process of democracy, local people have their views and concerns more or less met within the provision of the planning decision making process.

 

But this isn’t always the case. Despite extensive consultation, often the wider community opinion may not necessarily reflect the opinion of those citizens whose lives and environment will be directly affected and impacted upon, by a decision which has been taken elsewhere and, ultimately, local people feel powerless to control their quality of life.

 

When we live within what is widely recognised as a broken society, it is important that this process is reversed and that local people are empowered.

 

 

Local empowerment is vital when the objective of a Government is to roll back the boundaries of the state – to reverse what we have today – which is a big state centralising power and local people who feel helpless.

 

We need citizens to become more involved in how their own communities function and are shaped, to become community shareholders by taking ownership for the residents of today and future families of tomorrow.

 

My party has already articulated the desire to establish local housing trusts, which will enable local people to get together and form a trust and dictate themselves how local housing needs will be met. Local people will drive the local housing growth agenda - they will be empowered and in control. We have exciting new policies in education which will enable local parents to establish and run local schools.

 

However, my Bill proposes a further approach when the need for larger infrastructural facilities is required within a local community.

 

An area of Mid Bedfordshire, which incorporates the communities of Stewartby, Marston Moretaine, Brogborough and Lidlington, has for some time been targeted by this Government for development and growth.

 

Not surprisingly, the people who live within this targeted area would like some say in how it grows. A proposed inappropriate Eco-Town has already been successfully fought off by engaged and active local residents.

 

As a result of European legislation and the need to cease using landfill and to create energy from waste facilities, Rookery Pit, within this growth area, has been designated as the preferred site for energy from waste plant.

 

This has raised a number of issues.

 

A large American company – Covanta - has maximised this opportunity to enter a sham process of local consultation and PR to convince local people that it has in some way advanced as a preferred developer / operator and has even indicated to me that the company is talking to local planners: which is not the case.

 

The fact is that many organisations may tender - and probably will do - to build the energy from waste plant at this location.

 

Bedfordshire has an excellent re-cycling record and already recycles’ 44% of its waste.

 

I am sure that the majority of people in Bedfordshire understand the need to cease landfill and to burn what rubbish isn’t re-cycled and thereby create clean energy in the process; what they don’t understand is why Bedfordshire should process the waste for Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Milton Keynes, Hertfordshire or anywhere else - counties which are quite capable of providing a facility to cater for their own demand now and taking into account future re-cycling targets.

 

It is time for the people who will be directly affected by such a proposal to be not only consulted, but to be given a vote - the power to decide how and in what way their community and environment will alter.

 

There is strong local opposition to the Covanta proposal which in no real way benefits the local economy but aesthetically damages the local environment.

 

From many of the beauty spots in Mid Bedfordshire, the Millennium Park, Ampthill Park and Houghton House, the Covanta proposal would blight the landscape with its Wembley stadium size proportions and chimneys.

 

The hope of Mid Bedfordshire’s economic growth targets being attained via tourism would be dashed in one planning approval.

 

The already congested M1 and A421 would become blocked with the congestion and fumes from Lorries carrying waste from other counties. They would be using the same motorway junction as the traffic for the proposed Centre Parcs which has yet to be built.

 

The size and scale of the proposed Covanta site makes landscaping and disguise almost impossibility even after five years of established growth. The building itself is half the height of Big Ben which stands at around 80meteres high with the chimneys standing at 145 meters, Mid Bedfordshire cannot boast many hills and so I hope the comparison with Big Ben and our flattish landscape provides some perspective as to the visual impact such a facility will have.

 

 

Therefore Mr Speaker, given the enormous negative impact a waste facility catering for more than the requirements of Bedfordshire would have on people living in and around the designated area; those people should be given a greater say in what happens and this Bill proposes that a local referendum be held – the results of which  the Secretary of State would honour - which seeks to genuinely harness local opinion and to make a yes or no decision with regard to the size and capacity of such a facility.

 

Facilities of Covanta proportions can be disguised within the wonderful large scale USA. England is an island which is becoming over populated for its already fairly small size. We have no capacity for a facility the size of Covanta, we have no spare air in Bedfordshire for the errors of toxic fumes, we have no vista or horizon large enough to accommodate a facility the size of the Covanta proposal and the local people are running out of patience.

 

Potential air pollution, not only from the site itself, but from the constant stream of backed up slow moving lorries would be accompanied by light pollution, with the area becoming one of perpetual daytime.

 

This intended site has nothing good to offer to the people of Mid Bedfordshire.

 

It does however, take much away, we realise this, we are fully aware and we will oppose the intention to impose a gigantic furnace within our midst with the same vigour and determination we successfully fought of the Eco Town.'

 

 
 
 
 
Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
via e-mail at: nadine.dorries.mp@parliament.uk
or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

 
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