- Protest at official opening of Chineham burner
Local and anti-incineration activists from all over the UK,
gather at the gates to the burner site in Chineham.
Photo: C. Derrick (Copyright 2003, BBAC)
View photographs of this action, in the BBAC photographic gallery.
BBAC issue press statement
Dateline: Friday 26th September, 2003.
Despite a series of attempts by the Hampshire Waste Services to keep the official opening of the Chineham burner by the Princess Royal under wraps, local residents backed up by anti-burner activists from across the UK lined the entrance to the burner site to highlight their growing health concerns and to protest against the operators' ongoing indifference to public opinion.
In the 2 weeks leading up to the opening, the BBAC co-ordinated a letter-writing campaign, directed towards the Buckingham Palace press office and urging the Princess Royal to reconsider attending the official opening, pointing out the numerous health concerns relating to municipal waste incineration (especially the issues of childhood heath, since the Princess is the President of the Save The Children Fund).
While the response from Buckingham Palace was mildly sympathetic, the text of the response was an almost verbatim version of the Operator's stance. One protester who had read the response commented that: "The only thing missing from the Buckingham Palace statement was a 'Copyright 2003, Onyx. All Rights Reserved' clause on the bottom of the page.".
Ironically, the SELCHP burner facility in London, previously opened by Prince Charles, has since been responsible for almost 900 documented emission violations in just four years. Like the Chineham facility, SELCHP was touted as a "state-of-the-art" facility and the BBAC are disappointed to find that history appears to be repeating itself as Buckingham Palace does not appear to have undertaken it's own research into this controversial issue, preferring instead to regurgitate the industry dogma and government propaganda.
Since the Chineham burner went online earlier this year, there have been a series of air quality incidents ranging from acrid smells, to the visible release of dark clouds of smoke and fumes pouring from the chimney stack. Even on the morning of the official opening, eye-witnesses have reported seeing clouds of black smoke rising from the burner stack, less than an hour before HRH Princess Anne was due to arrive. Not surprisingly, visible emissions had ceased by the time the Princess Royal arrived on site.
In most cases, HWS have simply pointed the finger at a number of other potential causes and refused to even consider that their so-called "state-of-the-art" facility is responsible. In one of the most recent fiascos, the operator admitted that at least one recent emission breach was due to the failure of a single £12 sensor and despite the fact that there is a camera apparently fitted to the chimney stack, they failed to notice that the stack was releasing large clouds of smoke and noxious gases for over 20 minutes. Insult was then added to injury, when the Environment Agency, the government body supposedly responsible for monitoring burner facilities and penalising operators for such emissions, once again failed to take any form of tangible action against Hampshire Waste Services.
Hampshire Waste Services, fearful of widespread opposition were taking no chances for the official opening, initially banning the press from attending the opening (this backfired as local newspapers, the Basingstoke Gazette and the Basingstoke Observer reacted angrily to this infringement on the Publics' right-to-know and HWS was forced to relent at the 11th hour). Despite widespread concerns by local residents, no representatives from the Chineham Parish Council, were permitted to attend the opening.