SOUTH West Wiltshire MP Dr Andrew Murrison has written to Energy Minister Grant Shapps to ask why the companies building and profiting from incinerators are not subject to the emissions trading scheme.

The ETS implements the ‘polluter pays’ principle by demanding that companies buy permits for each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit. Estimates of carbon emissions from incinerators range from six to seven million tonnes per annum.    

Dr Murrison’s intervention comes after openDemocracy reported that if the ETS applied to incinerators last year, they would have paid £554 million for their pollution. However, under current plans the incinerators will not be part of the ETS until 2027 or 2028.   

The MP said: "By any reckoning we will be substantially over-capacity on incinerators meaning they can only survive economically if we continue to feed them plastics.

“It just isn't good enough to have a waste management model that consigns an ever-increasing tonnage of plastic waste to the great landfill in the sky. 

“It's unacceptable that the companies profiting from these monstrosities are not paying for the harm they are causing. The polluter must pay, not in 2028, but now."   

The MP objected strongly to plans by Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd to build a £200 million energy-from-waste incinerator in Westbury that could process 243,000 tonnes of waste a year.

NREL says the proposed Northacre facility will provide a sustainable, long term solution for residual business and household waste, currently destined for disposal in landfill and export to Europe, by instead using it to generate low carbon energy.

The scheme was granted permission by planning inquiry inspector Stephen Normington in February, subject to a string of conditions.

The company, which is jointly owned by Bioenergy Infrastructure Group and Swindon-based Hills Group, had appealed against Wiltshire Council’s failure to give notice within the prescribed period of a decision on its application for planning permission.

Wiltshire Council had refused NREL planning permission in June 2022 on the grounds that the proposed development would generate substantial net carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over its lifetime and thereby failed to assist in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

Despite giving planning approval in 2019, Wiltshire Council had refused NREL consent for a change of technology from advanced thermal treatment gasification to moving grate combustion.

Dr Murrison is now lobbying ministers and advisers to get a moratorium on more burners and an incineration tax to promote responsible waste management.