Stop Incineration in the North-East (SINE) has been formed by residents across the North-East region, horrified to learn that our local authorities intend to sign a multi-billion-pound contract to build a huge new incinerator and burn most of our rubbish there for decades.

The venture is jointly sponsored by the local authorities of Hartlepool, Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Durham and Newcastle. It is to be built in Redcar. The total value of the contract is at least £2bn and it is intended to last for up to 40 years.

The incinerator is requested to have a capacity of 450,000 tonnes per year. The tender states that the ‘residual waste’ from the relevant authorities is forecast to be 397,000 tonnes per year. According to the ONS/Defra, the recycling rate for the North-East is only 35%, 450,000 tonnes is very likely to be most of our rubbish.

A petition that SINE has started against the project has over 700 signatures and rising.

SINE is afraid that our councils are about to lock us into an expensive, polluting project and stop us from exploring better ways of recycling, re-use and waste reduction in the years to come – similar contracts often include penalties if the authority does not deliver enough waste to be incinerated.

Rowan putting rubbish in the bin.

SINE also urges our councillors to examine the findings of the recent Dispatches investigation on incineration for Channel 4. This revealed that incineration, as a form of energy generation is second only to coal for carbon dioxide emissions and that 60% of the waste burnt could have been recycled. Electricity from coal is already being phased out and the majority of the seven councils have made declarations acknowledging the climate emergency.

SINE believes that such a large incineration facility is bound to be a local pollution risk. While incineration operators claim these risks have been eliminated by new technology, the formation of various toxins during incineration isn’t fully understood, and many of our supporters remember the Byker ash scandal in Newcastle.

The new chairperson of the SINE group, Redcar forest-school leader and parent Rowan McLaughlin said “Redcar and Cleveland Council pledged to make the whole borough carbon neutral by 2030 when they passed a climate emergency motion in March 2018. If this new incineration plant is produced it will make this target virtually impossible to meet as energy from waste is a very high carbon way to produce energy.”

Councillor Bryony Holroyd, of the Green Party on Darlington Borough Council, said “There’s so much more we could do to reduce waste instead of burning it: filter out repairable and reusable items, collect food waste, require deposit return schemes so reusable packaging is collected to wash and refill, and require producers to phase out items which are not universally collected for recycling. As well as reducing waste and resource use, this would provide jobs and improve skills, and make more affordable second-hand items available – community wealth-building in action”.

On Wednesday 24th March 2021 there will be a Parliamentary adjournment debate on ‘waste incinerators.’ The debate has been called by Robbie Moore MP, who has spoken out against the incinerator proposed for his Keighley constituency, where the Aire Valley Against Incineration group remains active in opposition to this proposal.

If you want to stop the Tees Valley, County Durham and Newcastle incinerator at Redcar you can sign the petition to here or write to your local MP.

Photo credit – Photo by Alexander Tsang on Unsplash and Rowan.