South West Wiltshire Labour Party



There was a campaign meeting on 28th  Feb 7.45 at the Laverton  relating to the gasification plant at Hills,  Westbury

The main concern of many Westbury residents is the resulting air pollution of the already agreed development and the Environment Agency are being encourage to investigate and if necessary to block this project on health concern.

A further concern is the amount of additional road traffic this plant will encourage, particularly as there are already areas of Westbury where air pollution from road traffic falls below the acceptable levels."

The proposals for the Northacre Plant are of great concern and the Labour Group feel that the fears and concerns of the people of Westbury must be addressed by Hills and the Wiltshire Council.    

Read the full Article from the Warminster Journal

Westbury Recycling & Waste Management Scheme Problems

Westbury News

There was original concern about the potential quantity of heavy lorry movements.  However, a claim that there are or would be 60 lorries a day has since been found to be over-stated.  The arithmetic of the amount of waste to be handled indicates about 10 average large lorry loads a day into the Northacre waste recycling plant.  Planning permission allows for a future maximum of about 20 heavy goods vehicles in/out daily.  The same source subsequently upped the estimate to 100-plus lorry movements a day (in another WHN letter).  Feedback from an encounter at a meeting indicated that this number may have been extrapolated from a campaign against a similar incinerator proposed for Swindon but not subsequently built.  It seems to be highly exaggerated.  This example shows that all information (not only Hill’s and WC’s) needs studying.  


20 lorries a day through Westbury will still not be good for people and our environment.   

 Railway use is simply obvious.  There are so far no relevant arguments against it.  The proposed Tarmac track slab making facility on the site of the previous cement works, for example, already has its own branch off the main rail line.  The owners, Tarmac, intend to use heavy road vehicles to bring in the aggregate for the concrete making only because their preferred quarry does not have a railway connection.  This appears to leave a potentially simple campaign to press for the better all-round solution.  Hill’s Northacre Waste recycling facility is close to Westbury railway station and its sidings.  From enquiry, Hill’s Waste was not opposed to use of the railway.  Connection here just needs to be mapped-out, engineered and approved.  It also needs motivation.       


There are a great number of aspects and questions.  Much more needs to come out.                 


For example, plastic bottles and cardboard are collected in the same blue topped bins. How are these very different materials sorted to be recycled?  It seems very laborious.  Are these materials actually going to landfill?  Is it intended to put plastics through the proposed incinerator/gasifier plant?   Heating plastic usually causes toxic emissions.  Hill’s Waste company says that it will be sorted out.  How far can this be believed?  


I am slow to pick up what is said.  I have poor hearing.  I am not over trusting either.       


Energy-saving fluorescent lamps contain small amounts of various toxic substances,   yet Wiltshire Council has no separation and says that they are put with general waste.       


Food waste causes contamination and creates gas in landfill.  It clogs other recycling.  Appalling amounts of food are thoughtlessly wasted.  How can this be minimised?  The Green Party proposes separate collection of waste food for recycling.  Do you agree?  How will the waste food be recycled?   It used to be fed to pigs.  Following previous food chain scandals, it is no longer permissible to feed waste food scraps to pigs.  Does this still apply?  How else is mixed (with meat etc) waste food to be recycled?    

 Our soft-right consensus professional politicians do not want to lose votes by even slightly inconveniencing people.  That may be why even the Green Party is proposing waste food collection rather than daring to openly campaign against wasting food at all.   

 There is presumably minimal harm in vegetation going into landfill.  Chopped wood is ideal for burning and, of course, for producing useful energy with known side effects.  


A big problem is the diversity of plastic materials and potential toxins, whether enough knowledge of all side effects (frequently harmful) when they are heated, for recycling,  in an incinerator or a gasifier, is sufficiently available and is being taken into account.  

 Without now going into all the operating details of Hill’s proposed incinerator-gasifier, the concept can possibly be simplified by considering whether it will be open or closed, or a hybrid complex process.  If the process is to be through a closed gasifier, it seems reasonable to assume that there would be no outside emissions.  If there is an outlet, there will be emissions.  A chimney is proposed for the Northacre plant and is now to be 75m high.  From attempted reading about the technology, it seems that Hill’s Waste and its specialists are planning to do both gasification and incineration.   

 So, how well are harmful elements going to be filtered out…?  

 Hill’s original recycling centre sorts waste for treatment.  We do not know how well.

 In Hill’s new heat treatment plant, deemed suitable waste would go for gasification, probably through pyrolysis.  The retorts may be similar to coke ovens.  The charge will be heated under pressure in absence of oxygen until it emits gas, leaving a residue.  

 The gas could go to heat a boiler which will produce steam for turbines to generate electrical power or go directly through gas turbine generators.  

 The liquor can be burned or used as a feedstock or raw material for other processes.

 Solid residues from pyrolysis can be compacted and burned in an incinerator, along with compacted domestic rubbish not fed to the gasifiers.

 Heat from the incinerator can be used to heat the gasifiers, dry off domestic waste and/or produce steam for turbine generators.

 As can be seen, waste streams would be produced at several stages of the process.

 How toxic they are could depend on the efficiency of the picking process in the original recycling centre.  Will PVC, one of the worst of the plastics for toxic fumes when burnt, be removed?  Will all metals and electronic products be removed?   Will button cells, NiCad batteries, smoke detectors (containing radioactive elements) be removed?

 Incinerator ash will be toxic and require disposal at a licensed waste site (lined with impermeable sheeting and perimeter monitoring against leaching into groundwater).

 The scrubbers/filters, if they work efficiently, will trap particles and gases that will be potentially very toxic.  Again, residues will have to be removed to licensed landfill sites.

 The chimney should also have a filter for fly ash from the incinerator.

 Stack emissions would have to be monitored for compliance with limits set by the EA for such as chlorine, hydrogen chloride, phosgene, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, aromatic hydrocarbons, benzenes etc (which are potent carcinogens) and dioxins; altogether lots of substances and micro particles which may include asbestos fibres.

 The tall 75m stack suggests that Hill’s Waste expects some toxic emissions, if only during emergencies and to get rid of flammable gases when the plant goes wrong.  Will they expect to flare off flammable gases in an emergency…?


There have been regular accidental fires at Hill’s Northacre waste recycling site.


Recent talk is that there is apparently an under-used similar plant at Avonmouth.   


The above is a mixed bag, rather like the rubbish which goes through the system.      


The Conservative group controlling Wiltshire Council has been acting deplorably, as usual, being indifferent and ignorant - as the Green party has pointed out.  Some may welcome the challenge of a campaign against the Wiltshire Conservative Councillors.      


Some basic practical considerations of how SWW CLP might campaign effectively are:  


We can compete with or ally with the Green Party in opposition to the proposed waste recycling method, which may not sway the overall outcome but will raise awareness.  


The Greens are well focussed on environmental issues.  The Labour Party does not have environmental credentials but has lots of other concerns such as homelessness.   


In the event of getting some of it wrong, which group is more likely to be damaged?     Alongside studying the facts, the CLP could take a cautious, constructive, approach which may ultimately be persuasive of getting some of it better and leave us respected.


Or, after considering it all, we abandon this topic for being too difficult to campaign on.  

 Or we stay with our agreed safe and sound policy of promoting use of the railways.   

  There is no valid case against railway transit; just insufficient motivation.  Hill’s Waste can be pressed to bring rubbish in by rail and send ash and filter waste out by railway, rather than by road.  This remains a sound and simple campaign issue for our CLP.

 The other point previously agreed within our CLP has been achieved by our Labour group on Westbury Town Council helping to set up the well-attended public meeting.  


How much time and effort can our SWW Labour Party put in to the overall issue?    


There are still rather a lot of questions which we do not yet know need asking.   


 John Bowley        February 2018   

Outline about Hill’s Northacre Waste Recycling Plant for CLP consideration


The potential waste incineration has aroused debate and action groups in Westbury.


Our previous CLP group discussion started from the basis that we should not oppose before we know of valid alternative solutions.  It has been agreed all round that landfill is not a sound long-term way of disposing of waste.  It causes problems of itself.  The fundamental problem, it is agreed, is that we are, as a whole, far too wasteful.  There is probably no-one who will publicly disagree with this.  Safe, healthy, environmentally sound recycling of the rubbish really ought to be better than burying it in the ground.

However, there are, of course, various complications.  The Green Party and its allies are running a campaign against the proposed Northacre waste recycling plant on the basis that it is a fix for commercial profit making out of local tax payers.  There is also underlying concern that the proposed recycling of waste may emit unhealthy fumes.