National Assembly of Wales committee calls for health impact study on waste incineration


The Petitions Committee at the National Assembly of Wales has called on the Welsh Government to consider a major study on the health impact of energy from waste plants.

A petition has been submitted for a review of waste disposal services, in particular the Prosiect Gwyrdd partnership involving Caerphilly, Cardiff, Monmouthshire, Newport and Vale of Glamorgan councils. Veolia Environmental Services and Viridor are shortlisted for this contract to treat the waste from the partnership.


Following evidence given in May by toxicologist Professor Vyvyan Howard from the University of Ulster that emissions from an incineration plant were likely to contain more contaminants than emissions from a conventional plant, the committee decided to request the study.

This is despite it acknowledging that an official UK Government study had failed to establish any convincing links between emissions from energy from waste plants and adverse effects on public health.

Chair of the Petitions Committee William Powell AM said: “The Committee made this recommendation as a way to address the concerns of the petitioners who brought this issues to our attention.

“We recognise that the Welsh Government and local authorities need to find a reliable way to deal with the relentless stream of waste and we have no doubts that the debate surrounding its disposal will continue for some time.

“This is clearly an issue people feel passionately about and the committee is encouraged by the dedication of those petitioners who continue to seek more efficient and sustainable ways for us to live within our own ecological footprint here in Wales.”

The Petitions Committee made three recommendations in its report. These were:

  • The Committee recognises that market forces will dictate what waste technology is affordable to local authorities but recommends that the Welsh Government does its utmost to ensure that the 70 per cent target (of waste being recycled) is met by 2025.
  • The Committee recommends that local authorities are not impeded by long term contracts in meeting the 70 per cent target by 2025.
  • The Committee recommends that the Welsh Government seeks opportunities to support emerging waste treatment technologies that could, in time, offer a viable alternative to incineration.