Public health and the environment
Addressing concerns and myths
Local opposition to EfW can be fierce and is often based on out-dated or incomplete information. Concerns are often raised about the health implications and the wider environmental impacts. Government agencies and other professional groups point to scientific studies which indicate that modern EfW facilities do not adversely affect the health of local communities or the environment. If they did they would not be allowed to operate.
Modern EfW facilities are based on proven and reliable technology. These plants have to meet the highest standards of environmental protection. They must meet strict emissions limits imposed by the European Union Waste Incineration Directive. After a detailed review of all the evidence, the UK Health Protection Agency, the statutory body responsible for protecting public health, has stated that "modern, well managed energy from waste plants will only make a very small contribution to background levels of air pollution" and the effect is likely to be very small and not detectable. This conclusion is supported by similar studies across Europe and North America.
An environmental permit from the Environment Agency, whose purpose it is to protect or enhance the environment, is required to operate a facility in the UK. The permit controls all operations and will only be granted if the Environment Agency is sure that local people and the environment are fully protected. > FAQ 6