PLANS for a £500million incinerator in Gloucestershire have proven controversial. Reporter Mike Wilkinson went to see a similar facility in Aalborg, Denmark.
THE people of Gloucestershire need to wake up and smell the Danish bacon because the Reno Nord incinerator in Aalborg is an inspiration.
I arrived in a cold Aalborg, in the north of Denmark, with an open mind.
You can't fail to be impressed by the technology and the process at this incinerator which is similar in size and specification to our county's plans.
Vehicles drop off the waste and a giant claw (like 'the claw' from Toy Story, only bigger) picks up five tonnes at a time.
VIDEO: Giant claw picks up waste:
Clever doors keep the air coming in rather than going out, so there's no smell, and the floors are so clean you could almost eat your dinner off them.
The waste is sent into the furnace, where blue flames gobble it up at a staggering 1,100C.
The flue gases that form are then cleaned by three scrubbers, and the water that is produced is pumped into the river - that's how clean it is.
More than 30,000 tonnes of waste slag is cleaned and used to build Denmark's roads.
The burning process gives 36,000 Danes electricity and 25,000 of them heating in their homes.
VIDEO: Incinerator burning waste:
But is it safe, I hear you ask.
"We do think very differently here in Denmark. We see this as a good thing and nobody cares about it," says world-leading waste expert Bettina Kamuk, who showed me around.
And it seems that any potentially dangerous particles aren't actually produced as a result of incineration, but are already in the waste itself, and whether you burn it or send it to landfill, it is still going to be there.
A control room, like something from a sci-fi movie, monitors the output levels and the operation can be stopped if it goes over the legal limits.
Leaving the plant, I asked my taxi driver what he thought.
VIDEO: Rubbish dumped at Reno Nord
"Everyone in Denmark thinks this is a good thing. We have to do something with the waste and we might as well get power and heating from it, " he said.
And that was the biggest thing I took away from this visit. Denmark's people think differently. They see waste as a solution rather than a dirty problem.
That's probably why they are steaming ahead with 68 per cent recycling, while we lag behind on 48 per cent in Gloucestershire (and even that is good for Britain).
Back home, lorries are chugging along to expensive landfill sites and energy firms are ripping us off while we freeze to death.
In Denmark, people are sitting at home, warm and with the lights on, while their waste burns.
It's food for thought for those undecided about having a plant here.
CLAIRE CARD OF GLOSVAIN REACTION:
“I’m horrified. In fact it worse than I expected,” said anti-incinerator campaigner Claire Card as she wandered around the waste-to-energy plant in Denmark.
She joined reporter Mike Wilkinson on the tour, witnessing the process of incineration from start to finish.
The Haresfield mum still fears for the health impacts on her children and says that noisy vehicles trundling in and out of the site will be a nightmare.
She said: “I just wish more people in Gloucestershire could see this.
“I’m not saying that we should dump our rubbish in landfill. I’m saying there is another way. There are more than two options.
“We see things very differently in England. We are not used to incinerators and it is not in our culture.”
Her views are shared by fellow campaigners from Glosvain, who have spent weeks holding public meetings trying to convince others that the incinerator is bad news for Gloucestershire.
A decision on the incinerator plans is to be made on January 17 by Gloucestershire County Council.