UK waste incinerators three times more likely to be in poorer areas


A rapidly increasing number of incinerators in the UK are being disproportionately built in low-income areas and neighbourhoods with high populations of people of colour

Waste incinerators are three times more likely to be built in the UK’s most deprived neighbourhoods than in the least, an Unearthed investigation has found.

Potential new incinerators – which have been proposed, are in planning or being built – also reflect this trend, according to mapping data. They are three times more likely to be built in the poorest areas than in the richest areas and nearly half are on track to be built in the UK’s top 25% most deprived neighbourhoods. We also found that people of colour are overrepresented in the neighbourhoods where existing incinerators are sited. Rates of incineration in England doubled between 2012 and 2018, reflecting a global trend buoyed by an international waste crisis. There are currently at least 90 incinerators in the UK and 50 more proposed or in development, according to government data and data collected by anti-incineration group UKWIN respectively. These include incinerators for municipal waste, medical waste and waste wood.

Major cities and industrial towns in England are home to the majority of incinerators, some of which are also energy-from-waste plants. More than two thirds of the potential incinerators in England are planned for the northern half of the country. London has seven operational incinerators – the highest number in one city, although they are quite far from each other. In and around Liverpool, there are four clustered in a 10 mile radius on the banks of the River Mersey, the highest concentration in the country. 

There are six incinerators operating in Scotland and two in Wales but both nations could see these numbers rise significantly. In Wales, there are six proposed incinerators – all in the areas in and around Swansea and Cardiff – and seven proposed in Scotland. To our knowledge, there is only one industrial incinerator in Northern Ireland, located in a relatively deprived area.

Sights, sounds and smells

People living near incinerators complain of noise, litter, increased vehicle traffic, smells and air pollution – although the available evidence on air pollution from incinerators suggests the problem is much less significant than around other industrial sites.  Georgia Elliott-Smith lives near the incinerator in Edmonton, north London, which is sited in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country. The area also has greater diversity than the borough and national averages, with 65% of the population being people of colour. Now, a proposed rebuild would see the incinerator increase its waste burning capacity by 200,000 tonnes.

“When you walk around the neighbourhood around this incinerator, it’s already a very industrial area,” Elliott-Smith told Unearthed.  “It’s really dirty, you know. It’s not well looked after.” 

“There’s waste handling areas, depots, you can drive up and see the open doors of where the waste trucks go in – and all the bushes are full of plastic bags blowing around.”...


The article keep going on

Inori Roy

Source :