England

West Midlands burns most rubbish, ONS figures show

Councils in the West Midlands burn more rubbish in incinerators than any other area in England, according to figures.

There are five so-called energy from waste plants in the region - one is being built in Staffordshire and two more are the subject of public inquiries, including one in Shrewsbury.

Electricity produced can be used to supply homes.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 33% of the waste in the West Midlands is incinerated.

Councils in the North West burn only 2% of their rubbish to produce electricity and 21.5% in the South East, the ONS figures show.

'Putting something back'

The plants in the West Midlands region are managed by a private company on behalf of councils.

The energy from waste plant in Tyseley, Birmingham, provides electricity for 40,000 homes.

In Shropshire, 160,000 tonnes of rubbish are collected every year and plans for a £60m incinerator on the outskirts of Shrewsbury were rejected by the council last year.

Veolia Environmental Services' appeal will ultimately be heard at the Shirehall but the plans are opposed by residents and environmentalists.

Speaking on the Politics Show on Sunday, Sandwell Council Labour leader Darren Cooper said: "Six - with the one being built for the West Midlands - is sufficient and the one will again contribute to the national grid in terms of electricity.

"It will help supply homes.

"It is putting something back into the environment."

'Energy inefficient '

But Chris Crean, from Friends of the Earth, said the plants were not an efficient way of generating electricity.

"It's a lot less efficient than a coal fired power station.

"If you think about the amount of energy that goes into making a plastic bottle and then you burn it, you are not getting anywhere near the energy that has gone into the plastic bottle to make it when you burn it.

"So it's actually energy inefficient."

Gavin Williamson, Conservative MP for South Staffordshire, who recently helped to defeat plans for another new incinerator, said: "I think what we are doing is getting a balance.

"We're recognising the fact that we don't want rubbish going into landfill.

"We're not in a position where everything can be recycled.

"We have to get rid of waste as efficiently as possible.

"The key point is, we do not need more incinerator capacity in the West Midlands, we've got enough."

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