Battle lines drawn over Harpenden-Luton incinerator plan

The incinerator in Portsmouth
The incinerator in Portsmouth

A statement by the leader of Luton Borough Council that there was no connection between the proposed mass incinerator between Luton and Harpenden and the council-owned airport company has been called into question..

On Friday, Luton Borough Council leader, Cllr Hazel Simmons, voiced concerns over plans for ‘Lea Bank Energy Park’ – a mass incinerator for commercial waste located at New Mill – two-and-a-half miles from Luton Airport.

Cllr Simmons described claims that the incinerator was connected to the council-owned airport company, London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), as “inaccurate” and “misinformation”.

Despite this, LLAL chief operating officer had earlier sent a letter of support to developer Emsrayne Renewable Energy Ltd for the incinerator to power the airport and surrounding developments, calling it an “excellent opportunity”.

In the letter dated June 15, LLAL chief operating officer Robin Porter wrote: “One of the key benefits of this CHP (combined heat and power) facility will be its ability to supply London Luton Airport and future development in and around the airport with a secure source of affordable, low carbon heat and power.”

Emsrayne also told a recent Weathampsted Parish Council meeting that the airport was “a potential customer”.

Although New Mill is located between Luton and Harpenden, the land falls within Central Bedfordshire Council.

A planning application is expected to be submitted in September.

Campaign group, Stop Harpenden Luton Incinerator, has already amassed 4,500 followers on Facebook and the group is handing out flyers about the incinerator at each of LLAL’s public consultations.

One campaigner said: “It’s a ridiculous place to put an incinerator. Not only are you building on Geenbelt land, but the chimney stack is going to have to be so high to get adequate dispersal of pollutants that it’s going to be a huge blight on the landscape.”

Scientific opinion on incinerators is mixed, and campaigners argue that it contributes to global warming. Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami has voiced his opposition, while Luton South MP Gavin Shuker is quoted in support of the incinerator on its website.

An Emsrayne spokesman said: “No deal or arrangement has been made with LLAL or any related company for the combined heat and power facility to provide energy or heat, nor is there any deal to receive waste given the facility will be fuelled by RDF.”

Cllr Andy Malcolm, chairman of LLAL, added: “I would like to be clear that this proposed development is not connected to, or on behalf of, London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL).

“A technical letter of support was sent by our officers who were approached by the developers in relation to the potential for this proposal to power the airport and surrounding developments, making clear this was absolutely conditional on impacts on the environment and the community being kept to a minimum.

“Any decision of the company with regard to meeting the airport’s future energy needs will be mindful of our shareholder’s emerging Energy Policy. However, planning decision is clearly a matter for Central Bedfordshire Council, which would need carefully to consider the environmental impact of any such planning application.”

For details about the incinerator see www.lbep.co.uk and for the campaign see www.shli.org.uk.