Incinerators: Health Hazards

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 18th October 2021.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Independent, Islington North

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment has been given to the (a) precautionary principle and (b) potential harmful effect on local residents’ health from the release of particulate fumes from incineration, when permission has been granted to build new incinerators.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

(a) The Environment Agency is responsible for issuing permits to allow new incinerators to operate in England. The Health Protection Agency’s (now the UK Health Security Agency or UKHSA) response to the 2005 British Society for Ecological Medicine report on the health effects of waste incinerators states “there are no grounds for adopting the ‘precautionary principle’ to restrict the introduction of new incinerators”. The Environment Agency consults UKHSA on every permit application it receives for a new incinerator and is satisfied that this advice remains appropriate.

(b) As part of the permitting process, the Environment Agency carries out a thorough environmental impact assessment of emissions from the proposed plant, including particulate matter, and strict emission limits are included in permits for particulate matter and other pollutants. The Environment Agency will not grant a permit if the proposed plant could give rise to any significant pollution of the environment or harm to human health.

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