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Gloucestershire's controversial incinerator opens its doors to the media

The waste incinerator in action at Javelin Park near Gloucester. Credit: ITV West Country

The incinerator at Javelin Park by the M5 near Gloucester, which has been operating since October 2019, has opened its doors to the media for the first time.

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The incinerator will take 190,000 tonnes of waste from homes and household recycling centres in the area each year. Managers point out that this is rubbish that would otherwise end up in landfill sites.

I think it's really important for the county because we're taking all the municipal waste from the county, which is preventing it going to landfill. Just doing that is saving 26,500 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

– Stacey Wright, General Manager
Waste burning in the combustion chamber at temperatures of 1,000 degrees. Credit: ITV West Country

More than 100 lorries arrive most days delivering the waste, which is then picked up and put into the combustion chamber where it burns at around 1,000 degrees.

The resulting ash is collected and recycled into building materials but, in the meantime, the burning waste heats up water which turns into steam. That steam passes along pipes into the huge turbine hall where it is converted into electricity that can power 25,000 homes in the area.

The huge turbine hall where steam is converted into electricity. Credit: ITV West Country

Managers say the gases are treated till they get to a safe level before they are released into the air. They are also continuously monitored.

Environmental campaigners, who lost their long battle to stop the building of the incinerator, remain deeply concerned about its emissions. They claim there is no way of being certain what exactly is being released into the air.

They don't monitor the small particles. You can ask DEFRA - they'll say, 'No, we don't monitor the small particles'. So they don't actually have the evidence to say it's safe.

– SUE OPPENHEIMER, Campaigner

But Gloucestershire County Council remains confident.

We have to deal with the here and now. We looked at a whole range of options. That's why I'm satisfied with the environmental permit we've got with the Environment Agency. This is as clean as it gets.

– Cllr Nigel Moor, Gloucestershire County Council

The council hopes that a new visitor centre will help build relations.

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