LETTER: ‘Incinerator will have a negative impact on the quality of life in Wisbech’

PUBLISHED: 10:09 06 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:09 06 October 2020

These photos were taken from Saturday's MVV incinerator consultation exhibition at Queen Mary Centre. Picture: PETER FREEMAN

These photos were taken from Saturday's MVV incinerator consultation exhibition at Queen Mary Centre. Picture: PETER FREEMAN

Archant

I went to the MVV consultation display at the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech to give my opinion of the proposed incinerator.

These photos were taken from Saturday's MVV incinerator consultation exhibition at Queen Mary Centre. Picture: PETER FREEMANThese photos were taken from Saturday's MVV incinerator consultation exhibition at Queen Mary Centre. Picture: PETER FREEMAN

I was the only visitor at around 2.45pm and stayed until well after 3.30pm and had five MVV staff to discuss with.

I asked why they chose Wisbech to build their project and went on from there. The staff stated that they are all passionate about waste management and said that we have a problem in this country about landfill and their business is to do something about it. Wisbech was chosen because there is a need for an alternative to landfill in our area and we are to look at the incinerator as a benefit for the whole region and not just think of Wisbech alone.

Wisbech already has potential customers of the energy that can be produced from their plant so they have a ready outlet.

These photos were taken from Saturday's MVV incinerator consultation exhibition at Queen Mary Centre. Picture: PETER FREEMANThese photos were taken from Saturday's MVV incinerator consultation exhibition at Queen Mary Centre. Picture: PETER FREEMAN

They also feel that the lure of cheap energy will bring other businesses into the area.

Apparently they received mixed views from other visitors during the day, some for the scheme and others opposed.

One of the staff lives near an MVV incinerator in Plymouth and she was opposed to it when it was being built.

These photos were taken from Saturday's MVV incinerator consultation exhibition at Queen Mary Centre. Picture: PETER FREEMANThese photos were taken from Saturday's MVV incinerator consultation exhibition at Queen Mary Centre. Picture: PETER FREEMAN

She is now converted to supporting it. I suppose having a job with MVV helped change her mind.

I also asked if all the councils - both district and county - and the local MPs and large numbers of Wisbech citizens were opposed, why they were persisting.

As MVV are applying as a national project, local bodies can only give their opinion and have only a marginal effect on the decision. MVV are undertaking assessments in order to present to two national bodies, planning and public health who will or will not give the green light.

I could not refrain from mentioning Robert Jenrick implying that there may be friends of MVV at a much higher level and they knew they were going to succeed with their application.

They put up with me saying that I believed they were motivated by money not a concern for the environment and suggesting that they were being hypocritical.

I gave them all as hard a time as I could in the hope of generating (no pun intended) some unguarded comment.

The managing director did point out that all of us produce waste and it has to be dealt with and I could be called a nimby wanting the disposal of waste to take place in someone else’s backyard.

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To be fair that’s partly true but I also don’t want it built in anybody else’s back yard. I want an appropriate site that will not affect a whole community.

All in all, the managing director made some fair points and I found it hard to refute his business model.

But it’s not for Wisbech and I don’t like the fact that the major shareholder of MVV is ultimately the German city of Mannheim and once again money from a utility that should stay in this country is being sent abroad.

My consistent objections stem from the immediate impact the incinerator will have on the quality of life in Wisbech.

I think after years of neglect we deserve something better than to be the dumping ground for waste from surrounding counties and beyond.

There will be on MVV’s own figures 170 lorries a day (I suspect more). 170 smelly waste Lorries and 170 sets of petrol or diesel fumes.

They claim it won’t matter as the incinerator is being built on the edge of a small town but an edge of a small town means the plant and its chimney will never be far away from any of us.

I did say to them that they are abusing Wisbech by what they want to do and the MD took great exception but by abuse I meant the smell of waste and road pollution and excess traffic and potential long term harm to people and agriculture.

When we looked at the map, they confirmed that waste will be coming from all points of the compass through and around Wisbech.

They cannot give a guarantee that the water table and the local agricultural land won’t be polluted over time by their activities but they are “sure” they won’t be, and if the “assessments” by “experts” flag up a problem then they won’t be given permission to build. But they won’t pull the project until they are told to by the national bodies.

I asked what they would do if they were turned down. They have other sites in mind but as this process takes two to three years before permission is given or not I can’t see them starting again.

I feel pretty certain that this is already a done deal. A bit of digging into shareholders, associates and relatives of politicians and other decision makers to look for links wouldn’t go amiss. I doubt though it will be as glaring as the Jenrick case.

But the bottom line is that the people at MVV do not care about the effect their business will have on the quality of life in Wisbech and the long term effect on the environment.

The members of the consultation team have convinced themselves they are working to a higher cause. They actually think they are doing the world a favour.

The senior staff, though, know exactly what they are doing to Wisbech.


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