Burning may be the best option

I HAVE a great deal of sympathy with environmental campaigners - but Friends of the Earth's unequivocal opposition to the idea of building an incinerator to get rid of Suffolk's waste does seem rather wide of the mark.

I HAVE a great deal of sympathy with environmental campaigners - but Friends of the Earth's unequivocal opposition to the idea of building an incinerator to get rid of Suffolk's waste does seem rather wide of the mark.

It is quite understandable for people to be concerned about the idea of burning waste - after all the pollution that is released by traditional incineration is stuffed full of greenhouse gases not to mention dioxins and other toxic elements.

However modern incinerators filter away all the toxic elements, and while it would release some carbon dioxide into the air, this is far better for the environment than the methane that is currently created from landfill sites.

And while environmentalists may wring their hands and tell us we should all recycle more, they have to retain a touch of realism, and accept there will be some waste that simply cannot be recycled or composted.

Unless the government passes a law banning the used of polystyrene, mixed materials such as foil wrappings for crisps, and stops us all eating meat so there are no bones or gristle to throw out, and finds a use for the contents of your vacuum cleaner there will always be a need to dispose of some non-recycleable rubbish.

Suffolk's landfill sites will be full by 2016 at the latest - and it could be two years earlier - so what do FoE and the political opposition at Endeavour House propose to do then?

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Hopefully recycling will mean that the amount of rubbish destined for the tip or the incinerator will have been significantly reduced - but anyone who thinks it will go down to zero really does need a reality check.

So unless you plan to dump it at sea - which is hardly an environmentally-friendly approach - there are two options: find somewhere else to bury it in the ground or burn it.

Neither is attractive - but burying it will mean more land is needed, more methane will be created and people will end up protesting about that.

So if the technology exists to burn it cleanly and create valuable electricity at the same time, isn't that worth pursuing?

Before that can happen there will have to be a detailed look at the proposal with evidence from independent scientists.

Many people will be unable to accept the county council's statement that the plant will be safe at face value. Many others will be equally sceptical about FoE's claims about how bad it will be.

If independent experts are convinced it is safe then the incinerator must be the best solution to the problem of our waste.

WHILE Friends of the Earth might be wide of the mark in their opposition to the incinerator, one environmental pressure group that is talking more and more sense is the anti-flight group Plane Stupid.

Until recently I've always felt the expansion of Stansted would be good for the economy of East Anglia - bringing more people to the area.

I've now become convinced that it would be an environmental disaster - and frankly I'd like to see the end of cheap flights within western Europe.

Planes cause more damage to the atmosphere than any other form of transport and is sheer lunacy for governments which claim to care about the environment to also seek to “open up the skies.”

I wouldn't want to ban flying - it is the only practical way to travel thousands of miles - but surely there should be financial penalties to put people off making short flights which are incredibly damaging to the environment when there are alternative methods of travel.

It is obscene that it is much cheaper to fly from Stansted to Edinburgh than it is to travel by train.

It is daft that airline companies offer cheap seats to fly from London to Paris while you have to take out a second mortgage to do the trip on Eurostar.

It is disgraceful that governments are effectively subsidising the airline industry so they can keep fares low - and I am appalled by the brazen way that some airline bosses seem to regard the world we live in.

It is nauseating to hear an airline boss claiming it is more important for stag parties to have the right to go on brothel-crawls of Prague or Budapest than it is for our great-grandchildren to have a decent world to live in!

So when Plane Stupid started campaigning to stop cheap flights, they certainly attracted my attention.

And before you wonder, I haven't flown anywhere for nearly 20 years, but during that time I've made several visits to Europe by train or ferry - and always enjoyed the journey.

I would fly if the opportunity came to go to America or Australia - but taking off has to always be regarded as the travel option of last resort.

Unless we end this love affair with cheap flights before it really takes off, we'll all be on the runway to environmental disaster.

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