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Andrew Hunter MP
Speaks Out!

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... Press Cuttings
(Basingstoke Gazette)
Press cuttings (Basingstoke Gazette).

Please select an article from the list below:-

No Burner

Outrage Over Burner Snub

Protesters Burned By Decision

Report Raises Burner Fears

Burner Protest Heats Up

Burning Issue Fuelled

Worry Over Emissions

Watchdog To Act Over Incinerator

Press Banned From Covering Royal Visit

Residents Campaign to Prevent Royal Opening

Hostile Reception for Royal Visitor


From the Basingstoke Gazette. Friday October 22nd, 1999


Basingstoke Borough Councillors delivered a resounding "Thumbs Down" to the proposed scheme for the Chineham Incinerator (at their Wednesday-night meeting of the development and control sub-committee).

Councillors fear the suggested "Energy from waste" burner will be a danger to health, cause traffic chaos and would be an eye-sore. Eleven councillors across all parties overwhelmingly voted against the plans.

The decision now moves to the county council at a special meeting of the planning and transportation committee on November 17th at 10:00am at the Castle, Winchester.


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From the Basingstoke Gazette. Monday November 15th, 1999 (Lead Story)


Anti-Burner campaigners are furious at a snub by the councillors charged with deciding on the future of the Chineham incinerator.

Just one member of the crucial committee that will vote on the scheme bothered to attend a meeting outlining their opposition.

The presentation on Friday was the same one that helped persuade Basingstoke borough councillors to oppose the burner three weeks ago.

This was the campaigners last chance to persuade Hampshire county councillors before they vote on a recommendation from their own officers to accept the scheme on Wednesday.

However with just one member - councillor Harvey Cole - attending, they already knew which way the vote will go.

In a statement following the meeting the Basingstoke Burner Action Committee, said: "The afternoon had been planned at great personal effort and it was very upsetting to see such arrogance by councillors who failed to show.

"Even Dudley Keep, member for Basingstoke East, could not be bothered to hear the views of the very people he represents and who voted him as their representative at the county.

   "We now feel that the members of the planning and transportation committee are not going to posses all sides of the debate prior to the Wednesday decision meeting. We fear that this low turnout was because the councillors from other areas of Hampshire are glad that this incinerator is proposed for Chineham and not their area.

  "It is our belief that the county will now vote in favour of this proposal, disregarding the views of the thousands of families who are fearful of its consequences."


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From the Basingstoke Gazette. Friday November 19th, 1999


Protesters against the controversial Chineham incinerator have vowed to continue the fight, after Hampshire planners gave the project the go-ahead.

Despite the opposition of Basingstoke MP Andrew Hunter, Basingstoke Council and the 2000-plus people who signed the petition against the burner, Hampshire County Council planning and transportation committee unanimously backed the scheme.

Now, the scheme will be put before Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott who must decide in the next three weeks whether to order a further investigation of the proposal.

In the next few days, Andrew Hunter is due to hand over 850 letters opposing the scheme to Mr. Prescott.

Anti-burner protesters attacked the councillors over an astonishing snub last Friday. Just one member of the committee bothered to attend a meeting outlining reasons against the incinerator.

It was the same presentation that helped persuade Basingstoke borough councillors to oppose the 90,000 tonnes incinerator.

County councillor Phil Heath, who is also leader of the Basingstoke Conservatives, said: "I'm obviously disappointed the decision was unanimous. Had the committee attended last Friday's presentation, they would have been better informed."

Ward county councillor Hazel Vanbergen told the Gazette: "I'm going to start a branch of Guinea-Pigs R Us in the Lodden Valley."

Outside the meeting, councillor Dudley Keep defended the committee's decision to support the burner scheme and the fact that only one member attended last Friday's meeting.

He told the Gazette: "I only had four days notice for that meeting and was in Somerset visiting my son."


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From the Basingstoke Gazette. Friday 26th May, 2000


A leaked report about highly-toxic cancer-causing chemicals has led local politicians to call for a serious re-think about the new Chineham waste incinerator.

The call follows an article in national newspaper which alleges scientists at the US Environmental Protection Agency have found that chemicals called dioxins can cause cancer even in minute doses, thousands of times smaller than currently thought safe. The chemicals are released when domestic waste is burnt.

Now, Hampshire county councillor Mike Roberts and Basingstoke borough councillor Sally Jones, have independently issued calls for construction of the Chineham incinerator to be suspended until the US report has been fully considered.

Labour councillor Ms Jones said: "The community is so concerned and the incinerator is very near to housing. There are bound to be increased fears over this."

She said next week she would be asking the development control committee she chairs to write to government planning minister Nick Raynsford asking him to call in the Chineham plan for review.

Labour county councillor Mr Roberts said: "We have a major new report coming out, and we should take note of that."

A spokeswoman for Hampshire County Council said the story was based on a leak and contained nothing that the authority, which has given permission for the incinerator, did not already know. It was also based on incineration in the US rather than the UK.

"The health risk from the Chineham incinerator has been shown to be insignificant," she said. 


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From the Basingstoke Gazette. Wednesday 19th June, 2002


A dramatic showdown unfolded at the Chineham incinerator yesterday as bailiffs were sent in to physically remove Greenpeace activists who had spent 36 hours chained to the controversial structure.

More than 100 members of the eco group invaded the site at 6:30am on Monday, International Anti-Incinerator Day, forcing work to stop. But yesterday morning they were told that bailiffs were to be sent in.

John Collis, project director for Hampshire Waste Services which is building the incinerator, confirmed that the activists would be removed.

"A team of bailiffs equipped with bolt cutters are being sent in," he said. "If the activists chain themselves, they have the means to remove them."

However, Greenpeace spokesman Mark Strutt said the bailiffs would have a tough job.
"The people inside are absolutely determined to stay here until the Government and Hampshire County Council state that they are not going to go ahead with this incinerator," he said. "They should stop now and build a state-of-the-art composting and recycling centre instead."

The incinerator, which is due to open in October, is one of 43 planned in the UK and the third such plant in Hampshire. Its construction has been furiously opposed by local residents who fear it presents a health risk, by pumping dioxins into the atmosphere. Dioxins, a by-product of the incineration process, have been linked with cancer.

The protest was complicated on Monday when parents and children from Four Lanes Junior and Infant schools in Chineham arrived along with members of the Basingstoke Burner Action Campaign for a separate demonstration.

The group, who had walked from the schools to mar their protest, were prevented from entering the incinerator site by police and the request of the landowner, Thames Water.

Chris, Tomblin, a founding member of the action group, welcomed Greenpeace’s intervention. "It is one of the only groups in the world which can stop this," he said. "Greenpeace clearly has the organisational ability to do it."

Hampshire Waste is awaiting permission from the Environment Agency to start operating the incinerator. The agency is scrutinising a consultant’s report commissioned by Chineham Parish Council.


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From the Basingstoke Gazette. Friday 21st June, 2002


The dramatic occupation of the Chineham incinerator by anti-burner activists from across the country this week thrust it into the national spotlight.

Greenpeace protesters were joined at Chineham by incinerator action groups from Hull to Wales early on Monday. They were trying to prevent its opening in October by raising awareness about the health risks posed by contaminated emissions.

Some protesters chained themselves onto machinery, others occupied the roof of one of the buildings and a team of climbers set up camp in the helicopter cargo nets suspended from the building’s unfinished infrastructure.

Greenpeace campaigner Mark Strutt said: "People from across the country have come here to say ‘enough is enough’. We don’t want more incinerators to poison our food with cancer-causing chemicals. We must ban incinerators now. The people of Basingstoke have been fighting this thing for four years now and we will be pleased if we can stop it going through."

Greenpeace campaigners fear the incinerator will pump dangerous dioxins into the atmosphere. But Project Integra and Hampshire Waste Services boss John Collis, who is in charge of the project, have denied that dangerous levels of dioxins would enter the food chain.

He said: "I have had contact with all the farmers in the area and I have already told them that the food would be fit to eat. We recycle 25 per cent of waste in Hampshire - That’s three times the national average - but our target is 40 per cent, which is extremely ambitious."

Old Basing Parish Council chairman Stephen Marks, who owns fields containing wheat, maize and sweet corn as well as cows, adjacent to the incinerator said he still plans to harvest.

"The crops are tested for dioxins once or twice a year. Integra have guaranteed that if any tests reflect that something has gone wrong, then I will be compensated."

"I am more concerned about the chemicals we don’t know about. I am concerned about what I might find in two or three years."

Greenpeace protesters - who were removed from the site after bailiffs were sent in - were not alone in mounting their protests.

Parents and children from Four Lanes Junior and Infant schools in Chineham and members of the Basingstoke Burner Action Campaign also targeted the incinerator in a separate demonstration.

The group, who walked from the schools to make their protest, were prevented from entering the incinerator site by police at the request of the landowner, Thames Water, on safety grounds.

On Tuesday afternoon, Basingstoke MP Andrew Hunter went to the scene and the first of the protesters were being removed from the site. The MP spoke to the various parties involved in the incinerator controversy.

Chris Tomblin, a founding member of the burner action campaign, welcomed Greenpeace’s intervention.

"It is one of the only groups in the world which can stop this incinerator," he said. "Greenpeace clearly has the organisational ability to do it."

Hampshire Waste is awaiting permission from the Environment Agency to start operating the incinerator. The agency is scrutinising a consultant’s report commissioned by Chineham Parish Council.

Eight people have been charged with obstructing an officer of the court and will appear before Basingstoke Magistrates on June 25.


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From the Basingstoke Gazette. Friday 12th July, 2002


The gases coming out of the new Chineham incinerator will only be half as clean as they could be, according to a consultant's report.

Public Interest Consultants who carried out an investigation for Chineham Parish Council, say that the method to be used to clean potentially hazardous chemical emissions from the new incinerator is 50 percent less efficient than it could be.

The report claims that the level of oxides of nitrogen removed from burner emissions will be higher because operators Onyx Hampshire Ltd have not chosen the best available technology.

Chris Tomblin who represents the Basingstoke Burner Action Campaign and is also a parish councillor; told the Gazette: "There are two types of technology available - the Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction (SNCR) method which must have been approved by Onyx about 10 years ago when the available technology was at a less advanced stage, and the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) method which would reduce the likely amount of environmental damage. It is a more effective cleaning system which has been shown to work but it costs more."

He added: "Under the new legislation, all incinerator operators must show that they have employed the best available technology - which we don't think Onyx are doing.  On these grounds they should not be granted a license for the new incinerator."

Conceding that the incinerator would not be demolished, Mr Tomblin added: "This is the last chance we have to make sure the environmental impact of emissions is minimised.  In fact, there is still time to turn the building into an industrialised compost facility."

The report says that the SNCR method is, at best, 40 per cent capable of reducing oxides of nitrogen - which can cause acid rain and breathing difficulties - compared to 85 per cent for SCR.

But in response, John Collis, spokesman for Hampshire Waste who are applying for the license for Onyx Hampshire Ltd to operate the incinerator said: "We chose the SNCR method because we believe it is the most widely demonstrated and reliable system available.  We believe it's the best available technology - and it wasn't anything like 10 years ago when we looked at it."

He added: "Cost is part of the consideration - but not the main one."

The consultants report also recommends that Onyx provide public access to emissions data from the incinerator on the internet as a conditions of the Environment Agency granting the license to operate.

A decision on the award of the license is expected today - but the Environment Agency could delay it if it requires more evidence.


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From the Basingstoke Gazette. Friday 15th August, 2003


The Environment Agency is to take enforcement action against the operator of the Chineham incinerator after black smoke poured from the chimney stack.

The plant had been taken offline for seven days for boiler cleaning work to be carried out, and the smoke emissions were caused during pre-heating of the furnace in order to bring it back online.

Chineham borough councilors John Downes and Elaine Still spotted the black plume last Friday, which they said was around 100 metres long.

Cllr Still, who captured the incident on camera and sent pictures to the Environment Agency said: "When I took the photos, there was a strong smell in the air, similar to burning plastic."

Lisa Wigmore, spokeswoman for the Environment Agency, said preliminary tests showed there were no health implications surrounding the 20-minute incident, although she added that black smoke can contain carbon monoxide which can cause breathing problems.

She told the Gazette that the agency has the power to take various levels of action against the operator, and that a decision was likely to be made by the end of next week.

She added: "This incident should not have occurred and we are awaiting further tests to see what happened. To some extent, the enforcement action that we take depends on that."

The impending action is a blow for the incinerator operator Hampshire Waste Services, which has faced a storm of protest over the facility.

In a statement, the operator said last Friday’s pre-heating process involved burning the same type of oil used by household central heating systems.

Spokeswoman Sue Roberts said: "The team at Chineham were at all times following the procedures agreed with the Environment Agency. Immediately the problem was encountered, they followed these procedures to shut down the facility."

Chris Tomblin, chairman of Basingstoke Burner Action Campaign, said: "The incinerator should not chuck out black filth and there should be a system in place to stop this from happening."

He added: "I am glad that the Environment Agency is prepared to react with at least a warning. This is something that must be sorted out and we need to know why it happened."

Cllr Downes also welcomed the investigation. He said: "We need more than just a warning or a report. A fine would be more likely to focus the operator’s mind on the issue."


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From the Basingstoke Gazette. Friday 12th September 2003


PRINCESS Anne will officially open the Chineham incinerator on September 26 - but the media have been banned from covering the royal engagement.

Around 100 people will be present on the day, including borough and county councillors, when the Princess is due to unveil a plaque at the plant.

However, responding to The Gazette's request for permission to cover the royal visit, Hampshire Waste Services project director John Collis, said: "We have very limited numbers so we have to control who is invited.

"The problem with the press is that if you invite one newspaper you also have to invite others. We are not inviting reporters as the numbers are restricted by security."

Instead, Mr Collis said in-house photographs and a press release would be available after the visit.

Buckingham Palace press officer David Pogson told The Gazette that, although the date is an official royal engagement, it is up to Hampshire Waste Services bosses to decide who is allowed to attend.

He added that it is "quite unusual" for members of the press not to be invited to such an occasion, and intervened on our behalf by contacting Hampshire Waste Services. However, the company is still refusing to let us in.

Chineham independent councillor Martin Biermann said: "I am appalled to hear this. This is, at the end of the day, a public facility and it is part of local government provision.

"Why is there the need for such secrecy? Do they have something to hide? If the operators are delighted with it, they should be singing from the rooftops, not doing a clandestine little shuffle around."

Chineham Conservative councillors John Downes and Elaine Still and parish councillor Chris Tomblin, chairman of the Basingstoke Burner Action campaign have told The Gazette that they have not been invited to the royal visit either.

Cllr Still said: "This should be done in public and I think it is disgraceful that the press and ward members have not been invited."

Cllr Downes said he had not been aware of the royal visit until he was contacted by The Gazette and added: "Of course the press should be allowed in."

Princess Anne last visited Basingstoke in November 1996 when she opened a new building at BCOT and a new YMCA building in Eastrop.

She is to perform a second engagement on September 26 on land in Kingsclere owned by racehorse trainer Ian Balding.

In her capacity as president of the British Horse Society, she will perform the opening ceremony of the Three Downs Link - a long distance route for riders, walkers, and cyclists.


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From the Basingstoke Gazette. Friday 19th September 2003


By Elizabeth Roberts

Unhappy residents have expressed outrage that the Princess Royal is to officially open the Chineham incinerator - and they are mounting a letter-writing campaign to try to change her mind.

In case the Princess does still come, members of the Basingstoke Burner Action Campaign are encouraging local parents to demonstrate outside the plant during her visit next Friday.

Chris Tomblin, chairman of BBAC said: "There is a level of concern expressed by Chineham residents that while any royal visit is generally welcomed, in this case it is not. We feel that the Princess has been ill-informed over the impact of incineration."

He claimed scientific papers have provided "compelling evidence" that incinerators are a risk to children’s health and added: "As the Princess Royal is president of the Save the Children Fund, we feel that to publicly support incineration is misguided."

A letter, available on the BBAC website for people to send to Buckingham Palace, outlines recent scientific papers on the issue, and asks the Princess: "We wonder whether you have been adequately briefed on the dangers of incinerator to babies and even unborn children?"

Chineham Independent Councillor Martin Biermann, who has lent his support to the campaign, told The Gazette: "I would be truly amazed if, having got the information, she thinks it would be appropriate for her to come." Cllr Biermann added that he was confidently expecting "a big crowd" to join the protest on the day.

Chineham resident Ed L’Ecuyer, 51, from White Wood, said: "I think it is despicable that the Princess is coming. I don’t think her entourage knows what they have got her into and I don’t think that she is aware of what it’s all about. This is just another ribbon to cut for her."

Mark Weston, 39, from Fennel Close, said: "I cannot understand why a member of royalty is getting involved with something that denigrates our environment. She would not want the incinerator in her back yard."

John Collis, Hampshire Waste Services project director, said he was "very disappointed" to hear of the planned protest. He added: "I am very pleased that the Princess has agreed to open the facility."


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From the Basingstoke Gazette. Monday 29th September 2003


By Rob Green and Elizabeth Roberts

Protesters carrying placards jeered The Princess Royal as she drove past after officially opening the Chineham incinerator.

Around 50 people turned out to demonstrate against the royal visit to the controversial plant on Friday morning.

Parents and children from the Chineham area joined activists from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to voice their concerns about the incinerator, which received the royal visitor’s seal of approval.

The Princess arrived at the plant by helicopter and therefore managed to bypass the hostile welcome that the protesters who were standing behind barriers close to the A33 had arranged. As well as carrying placards, they had draped banners over the barriers.

Once inside, the Princess endorsed the work of the Chineham plant in front of a gathering of 100 dignitaries. She said: "There is no easy way out of the problem of waste disposal."

The calm of her visit was shattered, though, as she left the facility by Range Rover; as the placard-waving crowd made their views known.

Mother-of-three Sally Gale, of Thyme Close, Chineham, took her three-year-old daughter Amy to protest about safety fears. Referring to the incinerator, she said: "We do not know what it’s doing to the kids’ health because none of these things have been up long enough to see the effects. I have three children, so it’s important for me to keep up with what’s going on with the plant. I have been in Chineham for 15 years now and we don’t want to move, but it’s getting to the point where we might have to."

Helen Holley, of Cibbons Road, Chineham, is also a mother who is worried about the possible health risks to her three children. She said, under normal circumstances, she would have welcomed the Pricess Royal’s visit to the town. Mrs Holley added: "It’s great that she’s coming to Basingstoke, but she’s coming for the wrong reasons. She should not really put her approval on the incinerator: She’s been badly advised."

Chineham borough councillor Martin Biermann said residents were far from happy that the Princess has given the incinerator her seal of approval. He told the Gazette: "If the royal family is supposed to be getting closer to the people, this is a strange way of doing it."

Father-of-two Simon Moxley, of Stockbridge Close, Chineham, said he was furious that the Princess Royal was opening the plant. He said: "Doesn’t she have better things to do? I would have thought that there were schools or hospitals to visit. Why this? It’s a strange choice."

However, Cllr Keith Estlin, Hampshire County Council executive member for the environment, dismissed the fears of the protesters. Referring to the incinerator, which started operating in January, he said: "There is absolutely no health problem at all or the Hampshire County Council would not have allowed it."

Speaking about the protesters, Cllr Estlin added: "These are people with genuine concerns who will become convinced very rapidly."


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Chineham's Future?

Councillors Who Voted For The Incinerator

Dudley Keep (Con) - Basingstoke East.
Keith Estlin (Con) - Fareham - Western Wards.
Mike Woodhall (Con) - Stockbridge and Wellow.
Pat Devereux (Con) - Farnborough South.
Jonathan Glen (Con) - Hartley Witney.
Patricia Wiggins (Con) - Eastleigh.
John Waddington (Con) - Ringwood.
John West (Con) - Petersfield.
Peter Langdon (Con) - Gosport Hardway.
Peter Andreae (Con) - Aldershot North.
Sid Leyland (Lab) - Gosport Rowner.
Mike Roberts (Lab) - Aldershot South.
Harvey Cole (Lib Dem) - Westgate.
Adrian Collet (Lib Dem) - Yateley.
Liz Brett (Lib Dem) - Romsey.
Mike Shand (Lib Dem) - Fordingbridge.
June Watson (Lib Dem) - Eastleigh, Botley and Hedge End.
Roger Price (Lib Dem) - Fareham Portchester.
Bill Blackett (Con) - Purbrook and Stakes (South).
Jack Carruthers (Ind) - Cowplain and Hartplain.
Alan Dowden (Lib Dem) - Baddesley.
Peter Hutcheson (Con) - Hawley and Church Crookham.

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