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No welcome in the valleys for Welsh incinerator

Locals oppose £400m 'dirty stinking scheme'

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Local residents are determined to battle a plan to build a giant £400m "Energy-from-Waste" facility in Merthyr, capable of incinerating all of Wales's non-recyclable waste.

The proposed plant will, operator Covanta said, represent Wales's "biggest inward investment for years", creating 500 construction jobs and 100 permanent posts to run it for the next 30 years. It will consume 750,000 tonnes of waste a year, producing electricity for 180,000 homes.

Malcolm Chilton from Covanta said: "It's of national importance. I understand that people are concerned. I hope we will be able to allay those concerns through the period of public consultation that we are just entering into. These plants are very clean, safe plants. They will be good places to work."

Locals are actually rather more than concerned and, already engaged in a long-running fight to close the Ffos-y-Fran open cast mine, are vehemently opposed to Covanta's scheme.

Alyson Austin, who "fought with thousands of others against Ffos-y-Fran", told the BBC: "You can never ever give up, you can never ever give in. I have got my children to think of - I have got to protect them the best way I can. If that means fighting dirty stinking schemes like this, coming to a town nobody cares about, then I will fight until my dying death [sic]."

Residents close to another incinerator at Crymlyn Burrows in Neath Port Talbot, which disposes of around 11,000 tonnes of waste a year, are similarly concerned about the effects of such sites. Mike Ryan lives 300 metres from the plant, and says he's "worried about his health, and the health of his family".

Although Neath Port Talbot Council "denied that the plant impacts on people's lives, and said it took measures to keep odours to a minimum", Ryan and roughly 30 other locals have recently launched a legal action against the authority.

The final decision on whether the Merthyr facility will go ahead will be made in Westminster, due to the scale of the plan. ®

Bootnote

Covanta operates "38 Energy-from-Waste facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia" and has "earned a reputation for reliability, safety, efficiency, and environmental responsibility", according to the company's website.

There's more on how Covanta's "EFW" process works here.

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