Lancashire incinerator plans sound alarm bells for residents

Proposed facilities in Heysham, Preston, and Darwen stand at odds with wider goals on environmental protection and air quality improvement. 

A public campaign to raise awareness and encourage objection to new energy recovery infrastructure is underway. People living in Preston are spearheading efforts to put an end to proposals that could have a significant impact on pollution in the region. 

The city’s Longridge area is one of three sites in the county identified as possible locations for incinerators. Those voicing concerns explained the land earmarked by developers sits just 440m from schools and homes in the city.

The location (pictured) is also close to the River Ribble, raising fears about the impact on delicate ecosystems, and adjacent to Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Boilton, Nab, Red Scar, and Tunbrook Woods, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). 

They also pointed to the proximity of the M6 motorway, already a huge source of emissions, suggesting this is another example of lower socioeconomic areas being forced to bear the brunt of Britain’s air pollution. These sentiments echo research by The Runnymede Trust into so-called air quality sacrifice zones, and our own investigation into the disproportionate impact of emissions and other pollutants on the most vulnerable communities

‘We believe clean air is a basic human right. Pollution from the incinerator would affect not just Preston but also nearby villages. It’s not a question of being a NIMBY – this should be in no-one’s back yard,’ said Susan Lomax, one of the lead campaigners. ‘Preston City Council has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030. We’d like to see them achieve this by not building the incinerator. The current leader of the Council has even written to the developers to say they’re not in favour of the incinerator. Like most people, we just want to live somewhere safe, healthy, clean and somewhere we can be proud of. 

‘For every tonne of waste incinerated, a tonne of CO2 is released. CO2 will also be in diesel emissions from the extra traffic,’ she continued. It’s estimated there will be 186 HGV trips each day between the incinerator and M6, 340 per day during construction, and 518 return car journeys every 24 hours during that time. ‘We will pay the price with our health and the impact on climate change and on our daily lives, including an adverse effect on property prices.’ 

Air Quality News approached Lancashire County Council for comment on the sites. A spokesperson confirmed the location in Heysham was granted planning permission, which has now expired with work not implemented. As such any future developments would first have to be granted approval again. Due to a lack of jurisdiction, the authority could not respond to questions about the Darwen site, which is the responsibility of Blackburn & Darwen Borough Council.

‘An application for an energy recovery facility on land at Red Scar Industrial Estate, Longridge Road, Preston was granted planning permission by Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee on 27 November 2019,’ a Council spokesperson said of the Preston proposal. ‘The Red Scar Industrial Estate permission has been implemented in that access provision has been established but the facility has not been constructed. 

‘Planning permission is in place for future development but Lancashire County Council is not in a position to consider the planning merits of the proposal beyond the planning assessment and decision that was taken in 2019,’ they continued. ‘Lancashire County Council is not a prospective developer for any of the facilities referred to above.’ 




Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Thank you, Martin. Interesting article. ‘For every tonne of waste incinerated, a tonne of CO2 is released’ – tha’ts impressive. And what about the fine particulates? No mention? I get annoyed when some people say “pollution” but actually mean CO2. I know we have to get to CO2 down but that is not the whole story. How many waste incinerators does UK have now? Are fine particulate emissions being monitored around the sites? Do these incinerators have filtering machinery to deal with the emissions? I see the community at Wisbeach, Norfolk/Cambs are having the same problem. Maybe other areas too.

Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top