I write to object in the strongest possible terms to planning applications 17/00113/WAM and 17/00114/VAR. Like many of my constituents, I am extremely concerned about the environmental and health impact that an incinerator will have at this location.
The site is wholly unsuited for the burning of waste, being situated in a steep-sided valley, very close to an air quality management area in the centre of Sowerby Bridge, as well as local primary schools and many residents’ homes – situated as close as 100 metres away. The air quality through Sowerby Bridge town centre is already extremely poor as noted in the officers’ report, with levels of pollutants persistently exceeding lawful limits and having a detrimental impact on the health of my constituents.
Calderdale Council’s own website is very clear about the dangers of air pollution in our area:
“In 2013 in Calderdale 4.5% (Public Health England (PHE), Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) Adult mortality indicators) of all adult mortality was estimated to be due to long-term exposure to harmful particulate air pollution. It is now widely accepted that this rate is even higher when the effects of nitrogen dioxide are taken into consideration.”
“The two main causes of lung disease are smoking and air pollution. Between 2012 and 2014, Calderdale was ranked 122 out of 149 local authorities with one of the highest rates of premature death due to respiratory disease.”
I would also like to bring to the attention of the planning committee a case that was upheld by the High Court just a month ago. Swale Borough Council refused a planning application for 330 homes and 60 sheltered accommodation units next to Air Quality Management areas. The proposals were refused on the grounds that the development could impact air quality. The decision was appealed and after the Planning Inspectorate backed the council the case was taken to the High Court. It upheld the decision of the council and determined that air quality is something that must be considered within the planning process.
Public Health England have been unable to rule out adverse health effects from modern municipal waste incinerators and any increase in the concentration of air pollutants in an air quality management area is unacceptable, no matter how small.
The applicant has used data from Leeds-Bradford airport to model the impact of emissions and made assumptions in the modelling that are not explained. The recent fire at the Belmont site demonstrated that particles and fumes do not easily disperse within the valley.
There is also the cumulative effects of the proposed SWIP at the applicant’s Mearclough Road site to consider, which is not addressed in the application or their modelling. It would be irresponsible to not consider the cumulative impact of having two incinerators at either end of Sowerby Bridge.
I conclude that it would be wholly inappropriate for the council to grant an application that would worsen the air quality of an area that is already suffering from unsafe levels of air pollution. I therefore call on the Planning Committee to exercise its powers and refuse the two applications on health and environmental grounds, relating to the anticipated impact on air quality.
Member of Parliament for Halifax