Letters to the Fenland Citizen editor – October 14, 2020
It’s just like aliens have taken over
Thank you Fenland Citizen for allowing the citizens of Wisbech to have free speech published.
We have a Wisbech discussion forum which has an administrator who has removed a number of contributors because they have posted comments that he does not agree with.
Wake up Wisbech, especially the born and bred Wisbechian town councillors and electors.
You have been brainwashed by interlopers from other districts with pie in the sky ideas that are ruining the town. The latest being the pedestrianising of the town centre.
Fenland District Council’s attempts 25 years ago failed miserably, but our councillors were either not living in Wisbech or have a poor memory retention to remember the disaster.
Don’t the council see the vibrant town centre as it is now, with vehicles parking? I doubt it.
Pedestrianising will finally make the town centre a ghost town and an even greater no-go area with the absence of a flowing community.
East Dereham and Swaffham councillors have their feet on the ground as they have not pedestrianised and have short stay paying bays, like many other towns.
It is almost the equivalent of the aliens taking over a docile backwater.
Only the designers will benefit
It is obvious that Wisbech Town Council is not too sure about its plans to pedestrianise the town centre.
It decided to put out a further consultation. The results must be a secret.
With the shortage of old, established businesses in the town to show their resentment, were the newly opened and national companies consulted for their views?
£200,000 seems a lot of money to waste just to finally shut the town and turn it into a ghost town and a worse no-go area than it already is.
The only people to benefit financially will be the designer/architects and contractors.
Town centre businesses will suffer a lesser footfall but there will be no pleasure in saying I TOLD YOU SO.
Wisbech St Mary
The danger is greater than realized
As a retired healthcare professional, it is with great concern that I accessed the proposals to build a mega incinerator in Wisbech, together with published academic research which highlights the dangers of incinerators to public health.
Whilst the proposals are to be considered by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who does not consider public health in his consultations, I suggest that any threat to public health must be taken very seriously.
Published academic research by the British Society of Ecological Medicine (BSEM) as long ago as 2008 identified a threat to public health by these incinerators, ‘demonstrating that the danger is greater than realized’.
The report demonstrated the high release of dioxin during start-up and shut-down of the incinerators. “This is especially worrying as most assumptions about the safety of modern incinerators are based only on emissions which occur during standard operating conditions... incinerators are effectively particulate generators and produce predominately the smaller particulates that have the biggest effect on mortality, it is clear that incinerators have considerable lethal potential.”
Ten years later, a 2018 BSEM report by Dr Jerry Thompson concluded that: ‘The Environment Agency is here to protect the environment and to protect health from environmental hazards.
“Most people would expect them to be actively taking steps to improve worsening air quality, given the well-recognized dangers of particulate pollution. Few will understand why they are allowing so many incinerators to be built...”
MVV Environment Ltd first launched its proposals to build the incinerator during the Christmas holidays, hoping they would not be noticed and as they are required to have a public consultation.
They have now offered access to consultations at various venues in Wisbech during a national health crisis, which guarantees very few people will attend.
With restricted access due to the public health emergency, these public consultations cannot be seriously considered given that the majority of Wisbech residents will not access them.
Public Health England has already advised that any incinerator of this size should be built as far away as possible from populated areas, which the company have disregarded.
Waste will be coming into town from all sides
I went to the MVV consultation display at the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech to give my opinion on the proposed incinerator.
I was the only visitor at around 2.45pm, staying until well after 3.30pm, and had five MVV staff to discuss with.
I asked why they chose Wisbech to build their project and went on from there.
The staff stated that they are all passionate about waste management and said that we have a problem in this country with landfill and their business is to do something about it.
Wisbech was chosen because there is a need for an alternative to landfill in our area and we are to look at the incinerator as a benefit for the whole region and not just think of Wisbech alone.
Wisbech already has potential customers for the energy that can be produced from their plant so they have a ready outlet. They also feel that the lure of cheap energy will bring other businesses into the area.
Apparently they received mixed views from other visitors during the day, some for the scheme and others opposed.
I also asked why, if all the councils and the local MPs and large numbers of Wisbech citizens were opposed, they were persisting.
They put up with me saying that I believed they were motivated by money, not a concern for the environment, and suggesting that they were being hypocritical.
I gave them all as hard a time as I could in the hope of generating (no pun intended) some unguarded comment.
The managing director did point out that all of us produce waste and it has to be dealt with and I could be called a Nimby wanting the disposal of waste to take place in someone else’s backyard.
To be fair, that’s partly true, but I also don’t want it built in anybody else’s back yard. I want an appropriate site that will not affect a whole community.
All in all, the managing director made some fair points and I found it hard to refute his business model, although I don’t like the fact that the major shareholder of MVV is ultimately the German city of Mannheim and once again money from a utility that should stay in this country is being sent abroad.
My consistent objections stem from the immediate impact the incinerator will have on the quality of life in Wisbech and I think after years of neglect we deserve something better than to be the dumping ground for waste from surrounding counties and beyond.
There will be, on MVV’s own figures, 170 lorries a day (I suspect more). 170 smelly waste lorries and 170 sets of petrol or diesel fumes. They claim it won’t matter as the incinerator is being built on the edge of a small town, but an edge of a small town means the plant and its chimney will never be far away from any of us.
I did say to them that they are abusing Wisbech by what they want to do and the MD took great exception, but by abuse I meant the smell of waste, road pollution, excess traffic and potential long-term harm to people and agriculture.
When we looked at the map, they confirmed that waste will be coming from all points of the compass through and around Wisbech.
They cannot give a guarantee that the water table and the local agricultural land won’t be polluted over time by their activities, but they are “sure” they won’t be and if the “assessments” by “experts” flag up a problem then they won’t be given permission to build.
But they won’t pull the project until they are told to.
I asked what they would do if they were turned down. They have other sites in mind but as this process takes two to three years before permission is given or not I can’t see them starting again.
Our district and town councils will disappear
The Government has promised the biggest reform of local government in a generation as part of a plan to close the north/south divide and boost parts of England that voted Tory for the first time in the election.
The plans are likely to include the creation of more unitary authorities, ending the overlapping system of county and district councils in many areas, and more elected “metro mayors” like those in Greater Manchester and Tees Valley.
But it has been reported that a white paper on devolution and local recovery, due to be published this month, has been put back to next year.
Eventually, Fenland District Council and town councils will be devolved, and everything will go to Cambridgeshire County Council. Hence the new building they have moved into.