“Fears” over proposals for Wakefield clinical waste centre

Plans for the conversion of a building in Normanton into a waste treatment centre dealing with “as much as” 34,000 tonnes of waste a year are receiving a predictably rocky ride through the first stage of planning consent.

Healthcare Environmental Services wants to use the building on the Normanton Industrial Estate, in Loscoe Close, Normanton, to treat, store and transfer waste. Presumably, they see a need, and a market, for this investment. It will, if permitted, solve a disposal problem for the good people of Wakefield who presumably would wish to see their waste go instead into someone else’s back yard. And in all probability, had not given a moment’s though to the fate of any of their waste until this application was tabled.

Rationale thinking is the key. Objections concerning this waste facility and the waste treatments it will undertake come not from those who realise that the waste is adequately contained and comprises only the residues of our own healthcare, about which they have no comparable concerns, but from those who instead perceive blood and gore on the walls and floor creating a dire risk to those living or working nearby and to the public health in general. Health and safety objections are these days almost to be expected. It is the buzz phase of the age but is becoming rather passe and is now vocalised less often even though that is in most cases the foundation for most objections.

Of course, that is not the case, except perhaps for the most primitive operations that simply would not be licensed by the Environment Agency. It would not happen. Though we often rail against aspects of waste regulation, it provides a generally well-managed framework to ensure that waste operations operate to a high standard.

Blenkharn Environmental has dealt successfully with several such applications, and researched the subject in detail. It is clear that the answer is one of education and information, to explain logically and rationally the wastes, the processes, the certainty of waste security and absence of contamination events, and most importantly the biology of those wastes and the micro-organisms they might contain. Putting this into context can allay fears and correct misunderstanding, and goes a long way to the elimination of prejudice.

The news report comments on concerns of traffic and atmospheric pollution, though in all probability these are side issues. It is quite common for objections to be raised on what are effectively secondary – but no less real – matters since objectors often find difficulty in articulating their underlying concerns about “blood and guts”. This underscores the need for information and educaton, rationalising the nauture of these wastes and the treatment process itself with a robust

Ian

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