As we`ve seen with Greensqueeze in Derbyshire, the future of former industrial sites in the East Midlands remains a hot topic (no pun intended !).
The issue becomes more emotive when the inhabitants of former mining towns and villages feel they have just begun to get their communities back on their feet only to have to face the imposition of unpopular and potentially hazardous initiatives such as waste incinerators.
A case in point is the proposal for an `Energy Recovery Facilitator` ( it means `waste incinerator` - when did we start to speak in this bizarre cod-American ? ) on the site of the old Rufford Colliery at Rainworth, North Nottinghamshire.
In my view, this is a classic case of the road to hell being paced with good intentions. In order to reduce pollution, local authorities are being encouraged to reduce pressure on landfill sites, with the prospect of financial penalties if they fail to meet European targets. One very easy way to achieve this is by entering into a contract with a company who will simply dispose of waste material by burning it.
Naturally enough, this leads to concerns over environmental and health issues (see links below).
In the case of Rainworth, the issue is complicated by the fact that government department DEFRA pays £3m towards Nottinghamshire County Council`s 26 year contract with incinerator operators Veolia and could potentially claw back some of that money if permission is refused.
DEFRA funding is only one of a number of complications the local authority is having to contend with in this case.
In July of this year, the Information Commissioner ruled that Nottinghamshire County Council had broken the law by not releasing certain details to campaigners and ordered that the information in question be made available.
In October 2009, Veolia applied to the Courts to prevent the County Council releasing contract details to the locally-based People Against Incineration. Mr Justice Cranston rejected the company`s application and ordered that the contract be made available to PAIN`s Shlomo Dowen to read and/or copy.
Veolia` s appeal against the decision has been heard, but the three Judges have reserved judgement for the moment. The case has caused some concern amongst journalists, notably Roy Greenslade (`Press Freedom Threat as Company Fights to Keep Council Contract Secret`, 13 July 2010 at http://www.guardian.co.uk/ )
The relevant Public Inquiry has been adjourned, but is due to resume in September.
Various bodies have made submissions to the Inquiry ;
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust have come out against the development. A policy briefing on the topic can be found at their web site, http://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/ .
Natural England ( http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ ) have recommended that the Secretary of State not give permission until further assessments have been made. Their call has been seconded by the relevant Minerals and Waste Planning Authority, who are pro-incineration in principle but no longer feel they can give unqualified support to this particular project without more information.
Under pressure, Veolia have conceded that there are other sites in the area which they regard as "viable", such as a former colliery near Sutton in Ashfield, also in North Notts. The problem for them now is that a rejection at Rainworth would put them back to square one with the possibility of objections being made to any further proposals they make.
The principal campaign group in the area, PAIN, can be found at http://www.p-a-in.co.uk/ . Their campaign is supported by prominent environmentalist David Bellamy, Friends of the Earth (http://www.foe.co.uk/) and UK Without Incineration (http://ukwin.org.uk/).
Local media ;
Also interesting ;