Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 2 April 2009


Last Friday I went to inspect the obsolete New England Quarry on the other side of the road from Lee Mill which is one of the possible sites for the disposal of all of our rubbish for the next 20 years.

Let me start at the beginning. Commendably, 3 of our councils, Plymouth, Torbay and Devon have entered into an alliance to tackle the problem of where to dispose of all of our waste now that Chelson Meadow is full and anyway we are trying to move away from landfill. The partnership has gone out to the private sector to seek bids about how to solve this problem but has also designated four sites locally for possible waste disposal. These are on former MOD land at Ernesettle, the old Imerys site at Coypool, the New England Quarry already mentioned (owned by Viridor) and former MOD land at Wrangaton. I understand that either Ernesettle or Lee Mill are the most likely outcomes.

The preferred solution is almost certain to include a giant incinerator that will burn vast quantities of waste every day, releasing benign (so we are told) gases into the atmosphere through a seventy metre high chimney. The stuff that is left (clinkers) will either be sold or buried in a small landfill site alongside.

All of the possible locations have substantial problems. The waste from Torbay and south Devon will be transported to it every day, so more vehicle movements are involved. The environmental issues are significant. The incinerator will clearly be very visible and another blot on the local landscape, especially the chimney. The impact on surrounding land and rivers of the gases will have to be fully investigated. Perhaps worse, the numbers of lorries rumbling in and out of the site every day will create a nuisance to nearby neighbours. The Lee Mill option will involve 40 more lorries driving through the village which I think is unacceptable.

The process will take about 2 years to get through with much consultation along the way and the feelings of those affected will run high, understandably.

But our waste has got to go somewhere. Supermarkets have got to get better at reducing packaging and we have all got to get better at recycling. But even if we do, there will still be millions of tons of rubbish to be disposed of every year, so this project looks certain to become a reality. Another interesting challenge looms.

posted by Gary @ 09:29