Incinerators go up in smoke (finally)  

Published: 24 Mar 2021

In March 2021, decades of community and individual campaigning against incinerators finally paid off when Welsh Government introduced a moratorium on any new incinerators in Wales. 

In their Beyond Recycling strategy (page 32) Welsh Government said they would – “Place a moratorium on any future large scale energy from waste developments, as the increase in recycling and reduction in waste already seen means that we will not need any new large scale energy from waste infrastructure to deal with the residual waste generated in Wales.”

Uskmouth Power Station
Plans to turn Uskmouth Power Station near into a waste incinerator have been withdrawn (Robin Drayton - Uskmouth Power Station CC BY-SA 2.0)

Of course, ‘energy from waste developments’ are incinerators. The incineration industry many years ago cottoned on to the fact they needed to try to rebrand their deeply unpopular and polluting industry so they opted to go down the ‘energy from waste’ route. Bottom line though is that these places burn stuff.   

Councils need to enter into long contracts with these facilities (say around 20-25 years) so for that length of time they are contractually obliged to supply these incinerators with stuff to burn. That then automatically sets an artificial ceiling on the possibility of reducing the use of these materials in the first place or on the amount you can recycle in that area, as you will still need to be sending plastics, cardboard etc to the local incinerator to burn, or face fines for breaking the contract. 

Plus the fact that there have long been concerns about the pollution coming from incinerators.  

Friends of the Earth Cymru and our voluntary local groups network have for decades been working with communities all around Wales opposing incinerators in their areas. 

As such, we were delighted with the Welsh Government’s announcement of a moratorium on new incineration schemes in Wales. It marked the end of a very long, prolonged, and at times, bitter battle against these things. Our thanks go to all those dedicated campaigners and activists in communities all around Wales who have somehow found the energy and motivation to keep fighting against these incinerators for such a long time. 


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