Industrial and Commercial Waste Incineration

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:06 pm on 28th January 2020.

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Photo of Carolyn Harris Carolyn Harris Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) (Women and Equalities) 5:06 pm, 28th January 2020

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hosie.

Like me, my hon. Friend Stephen Doughty has a proposed site for a new incinerator in south Wales in his constituency. I therefore thank him for securing this important debate.

Clarion Close in Llansamlet, in my constituency, is on the Swansea Enterprise Park, at the heart of a small community. About 7,000 people live there, and the proposed site is close to a local school, Ysgol Lonlas, and to the Swansea Vale nature reserve. My great concern is about the effect of the incinerator on air quality, which is already a serious issue in Swansea. Only yesterday, the local press reported that Swansea has one of the highest PM2.5 levels in the UK, due to heavy industry in the city and the surrounding areas. PM2.5 are the tiny particles that cause the air to be hazy and, because they are so small, they are able to penetrate people’s respiratory and circulatory systems with ease. Those pollutants are incredibly dangerous and potentially fatal, in particular for vulnerable people such as the elderly and those with illnesses.

Llansamlet is located between the M4 and two other major thoroughfares through Swansea. Consequently, that further affects the air quality in this part of the city, and asthma rates among residents are disproportionally high. We do not need the threat of further health implications from an incinerator in the area, and I have no doubt that those living in the area would agree with me resoundingly.

We should be looking at recycling and reusing as much as we can, and at finding alternatives to waste incineration whenever possible. The proposed Swansea bay tidal lagoon, which would have brought clean green energy to our city and further afield, was scrapped in the previous Parliament. However, I have already been in touch with the new Minister in the Wales Office to invite him to Swansea to discuss the tidal lagoon again. We must stop ignoring environmental issues and start looking at what can be done to halt the climate catastrophe that we appear to be hurtling towards. We need to target spending on clean, sustainable and low-carbon projects. Building these toxic towers to incinerate waste is not the answer, not for now and certainly not for the future of our children, our towns and cities, and our planet.