NO WEY Incinerator, an action group battling Veolia’s plans to build a fourth incinerator in Hampshire near Alton, is asking all Hampshire councillors to consider why the county’s recycling record is so poor and why it relies on incineration.

Twenty years ago Hampshire was at the top of the recycling league table but now languishes near the bottom, with Veolia incinerating hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recyclable plastic.

Hampshire now ranks 198th out of 341 English local authorities in DEFRA’s 2019-20 recycling league table. Neighbouring Surrey is 36th, recycling almost 15 per cent more waste.

No Wey says Hampshire’s incineration of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recyclable material every year, generating CO2, pollution, and hazardous waste, is contrary to HCC’s declared Climate Emergency. HCC has no plans to recycle more and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; vital for meeting the 2050 “Net Zero” CO2 target.

Apart from Eastleigh, there is also no food waste collection in Hampshire. Surrey recycles many more plastics than Hampshire, which is also tied into a long-term contract with the waste processing giant Veolia, who have submitted the planning application to build the county’s fourth incinerator.

This facility would burn industrial and commercial waste near Alton, on the borders of the South Downs National Park. The waste will come mostly from outside the county.

The Hampshire Minerals and Waste Plan clearly shows that the county already has enough incineration capacity to meet its needs, but lacks recycling capacity. If the planning application is approved, the recycling facility currently at the site will have to close.

At present there is no plan for an alternative recycling site, so Hampshire’s problem will become even worse.

An overreliance on incineration is known to reduce improvements in recycling. Many Nordic countries, who originally championed incineration, are now aiming to halve their incineration capacity because they recognise it has a negative impact on recycling and climate targets.

More than 5,000 public objections, at every political level from parish councils to MPs, have been submitted to Hampshire County Council opposing the plan for the county’s fourth incinerator. Planning permission for this development will be considered at HCC’s Regulatory Committee in the summer. The strength of public opposition to this proposal shows that the sustainable management of waste is clearly a key issue for the local elections. No Wey Incinerator says that all councillors should be concerned about Hampshire’s dire record and the implications of its reliance on incineration for the county’s future.

A council spokesperson said: “It is important to make clear that the planning application from Veolia is for commercial wastes and that it is unrelated to any other contractual arrangements for domestic or household waste. Therefore, Hampshire’s current household waste recycling performance is completely unrelated to this proposal.

“However, the county council continues to work with its contractor and local authority partners to improve the county’s recycling performance. To this end the county council welcomes the publication, last week, of the Government’s ‘Consistency of Collection’ Consultation, as this provides further clarity on the requirements of the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy that will be enacted in the forthcoming Environment Bill, in terms of the range of materials that will be expected to be collected as part of the kerbside recycling systems - which includes a weekly food waste collection.”