Why incinerators make people burn with anger

IF MODERN incinerators are safe and emit negligible amounts of pollution, as some experts claim, why do they need a chimney 95 metres tall to disperse what comes out?

I’m only asking because that’s the height of the proposed incinerator chimney at North Yard in Devonport Dockyard, Plymouth.

The would-be developer, the German company MVV Umwelt, has put out pictures of their incinerator showing a boring, bog-standard industrial building that will be a disgrace on the city’s historic waterfront.

The chimney itself – standing considerably higher than the top of the Tamar Bridge – could become the city’s defining landmark.

So are these Germans giving us the finger? It certainly looks like it.

The building they’re planning for the Tamar-side is scandalously ugly and pays no attention to the Dockyard’s maritime and naval heritage: it will pollute everyone’s view. (NB: It has been modified since this was written, and is much improved, but could still do a better job of reflecting the maritime heritage)

It may be too late for opponents to stop the incinerator happening, but it’s not too late to influence the design through the planning process.

If MVV Umwelt is hoping to get a foot in the door of the British waste handling industry, this obnoxious-looking building is the wrong way to go about it.

THE Plymouth taxi driver who is campaigning against a crackdown on illegal parking is trying a new tactic.

Andy Ash is furious that the council is using its camera car to catch and penalise private hire drivers (among others) who stop in the bus lane in Royal Parade to drop off passengers.

Mr Ash has tried almost everything in the book – including calling in human rights experts – to persuade the council to reverse its policy. He tells me he has had discussions with Tudor Evans, the Labour group leader on Plymouth City Council, and Alison Seabeck, the Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, in an effort to win their support.

Now he says he is planning to offer Labour his and other drivers’ “conditional” support at the council elections in May in return for their backing. Such a deal would be straight out of the political manual of the world’s most corrupt countries.

Mr Ash insults you, me and our entire democratic system and I hope the Labour Party will walk away smartly.

The question of whether private hire cars can stop in bus lanes is exercising drivers and councils across the country – and I hope the councils stand firm. If it’s an infringement of a taxi driver’s liberty to be prevented from dropping off a disabled granny in a bus lane why, exactly, is it not an infringement of my liberty?

If bus lanes are congested with cars then the buses will have to stop in the road, risking the lives of their passengers and clogging city streets.

Here are a few more battles Mr Ash might like to take up: Taxi drivers allowed to ignore one-way systems on the grounds that they could save money for poorer passengers?

Taxi drivers allowed to drop people on motorway hard shoulders on the grounds that police in the course of their work are allowed to stop there.

Aircraft are allowed to taxi on the airport runway, so why not taxi drivers? Scratch that: the way things are going up at Plymouth City Airport the runway will soon be replaced with houses and roads anyway.

IT’S AS though you’ve been robbed in the street, and the robber takes off his mask and laughs in your face. Then you go to the police, and instead of going after the robber they lift the loose change out of your pocket.

I’m back on bankers’ bonuses, you might have guessed.

This week it was reported that Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond was set to take an £8million bonus. Giving evidence to a House of Commons select committee, he said the time for “remorse and apology” in the financial sector was over.

Oh no it isn’t, buddy. You and your pals have messed up hundreds of thousands of lives and the time for remorse has only just begun.

Then it was reported that the outgoing chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, Eric Daniels, was in line for a £2million bonus. Lloyds is 41per cent owned by the taxpayer after it nearly went bankrupt at the height of the financial crisis.

The bankers threaten to quit the country if we deny them their bonuses – which are automatic, and not a reward for performance.

The bankers claim they need to pay bonuses to get the right staff. What? The ones who lost our money?

The bankers claim that since their collapse they’ve made a miraculous recovery, thanks don’t you know to their sheer brilliance.

Give me several billion pounds of taxpayers’ money, fix the interest rate I have to pay savers at half a per cent and let me set the interest rate for borrowers at four, five even six per cent, and I reckon I could make a bit of a profit myself.

A version of this rant was published in The Herald, Plymouth, on January 13, 2011


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