Instructions to Inspectors after discovering that the Health Protection Agency hadn't examined health and mortality data around any incinerator

Michael Ryan made this Freedom of Information request to Planning Inspectorate

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Planning Inspectorate.

Dear Planning Inspectorate,

I've written and emailed you several times to alert you to the fact that the Health Protection Agency (HPA), upon whose advice your Inspectors rely at public inquiries for incinerators, haven't examined rates of illness or rates of premature deaths at all ages in the electoral wards around any incinerator and are therefore unable to provide any valid or meaningful opinion on the adverse health effects of incinerator emissions.

I wish to see copies of all internal documents relating to the above and also confirmation of the instructions (if any) to Inspectors to either ignore the HPA's opinion with regard to incinerators or to require the HPA to be present at a public inquiry to be cross-examined by concerned residents.

I also wish to see a list of the incinerators and biomass plants where the decision document is dated after 3 April 2011 when you'd have been fully aware that the HPA hadn't checked relevant data. These include decisions for incinerators at Shrewsbury, Sinfin, Hartlebury, Lostock, and the biomass plant at Davyhulme - all of which had concerns about health raised.

I also wish to see any evidence that the Planning Inspectorate has that shows that incinerator emissions do not harm health. By "evidence", I mean data and not what someone says.

Data released under FoI by the Office for National Statistics for London Boroughs show that the rates of infant mortality, stillbirths and low birthweight live births (ie weighing less than 2500 grammes) all rose in the London Borough of Newham after SELCHP incinerator started in 1993.

The following graph shows infant mortality rates for Newham, Lewisham (home to SELCHP), Tower Hamlets, and Wandsworth Boroughs - all of which had similarly falling rates prior to the start-up of SELCHP. Note that Wandsworth rarely gets emissions from SELCHP incinerator and the rate continued to fall in that Borough after 1993 - unlike in the Boroughs of Lewisham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets which are more exposed to emissions from SELCHP.

http://ukhr.eu/incineration/selchp.htm

Here's the link to the ONS data which was used to make the above graph:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/about-ons/what...

The following is the text of my letter to your offices dated 2 April 2011.

Miss Sarah Banwell
The Planning Inspectorate
Room Number 4/02 Kite Wing,
Temple Quay House,
2, The Square,
Temple Quay,
Bristol 2 April 2011

Dear Miss Banwell,

Appeal by Veolia over refusal of planning permission for Harlescott incinerator
Case Reference: SC/MS2009/0125/SY
Inspectorate Reference: APP/L3245/A/11/2146219/NWF

I wish to make further comment on the incinerator appeal as detailed below and have enclosed triplicate copies of this letter as well as of the documents named as enclosures.

Plasma gasification is the safest and also the cheapest (if health damage costs from incineration are considered) form of waste disposal, which was explained by Dr Dick van Steenis MBBS at the Shropshire Waste Plan Public Inquiry on 15 January 2004.

Veolia, who wish to have an incinerator in Shrewsbury, were awarded a “plasma gasification” contract by Dow Corning in Midland, Michigan – a fact that was reported in the Shrewsbury Chronicle, 25 October 2007 (1), and also in this statement to the EFRA Committee:

http://www.parliament.the-stationery-off...

If incinerator emissions don’t cause significant harm to health, it must be possible to produce evidence of “lack of harm”. No-one has been able to produce any evidence of “lack of harm” as far as I’m aware – but there’s an assumption by the Health Protection Agency and others that there is no harm and that assumption has been accepted as fact by the Planning Inspectorate.

The following extract from the decision letter for an incinerator at Sinfin, Derby, wrongly assumes that PM10s are the particle size that affect health when it’s PM2.5s that are small enough to get into the lungs. It also wrongly assumes that the Health Protection Agency (17), Environment Agency and Primary Care Trusts have been diligent on the incinerator health issue as they haven’t done “any epidemiological and other health studies” either:

44. In accordance with the advice in paragraph 31 of Planning Policy Statement 10: Planning for Sustainable Waste Management (PPS10), I have not done my own assessment of epidemiological and other health studies. Instead, decision-makers are advised to have regard to the advice of relevant health authorities and agencies. With that in mind, I have carefully considered the views of the City Council’s Environmental Health Officer, the Health Protection Agency, the Primary Care Trust and the Environment Agency. None of them has recommended that planning permission be refused. Furthermore, so far as I am aware, a direct link between poor health and PM10 emissions in the vicinity of any UK or European WTF has never been proven beyond doubt.
45. I have therefore reached the view that the harm to health from the emissions from the stack is something to which I can attach only negligible weight.

Appeal Decision APP/C1055/A/10/2124772

http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcs...

The lack of due diligence by the Health Protection Agency and others over the adverse health effects of incinerators can be summarised as follows:

• In March 2001, the Environment Agency (at Coventry workshop) recognised the need to examine relevant data around incinerators but have ignored their own “advice”. (2)

• In August 2003, the Health Protection Agency reacted to public concern over health effects of incinerators and promised to examine relevant data in conjunction with the Department of Health. (3)

• In May 2004, a study of infant deaths around 63 incinerators in Japan concluded: “Our study shows a peak-decline in risk with distance from the municipal solid waste incinerators for infant deaths and infant deaths with all congenital malformations combined.”

• On 24 June 2005, the journal of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Heath had the article “Something disturbing in the air”, which explained how particles less than 3 microns diameter (PM3) are small enough to get into the lungs and harm health. All Environmental Health Officers should have had the opportunity to learn from it. (4)

http://www.cieh.org/ehn/ehn3.aspx?id=231...

• In January 2007, Dr Dick van Steenis MBBS (named in above CIEH article, 24 June 2005) and I were among the speakers at the “incinerator” public meeting at Costessey High School, Norwich where I showed maps demonstrating higher infant death rates in electoral wards downwind of incinerators.

• In September 2007, a study of infant deaths around Italian incinerators concluded: “Findings call for further insight by analytic epidemiologic studies to confirm possible association between infant mortality and living near incinerators.”

• In January 2008, the Surrey Mirror and also the Dorking Advertiser (5) printed three maps I’d prepared showing elevated rates of infant deaths downwind of Sita-operated incinerators at Coventry, Edmonton, & Kirklees. These maps were among those shown at Costessey High School a year earlier.

• On 22 May 2008, both the Surrey Mirror (6) and the Dorking Advertiser (7) reported the fact that the Health Protection Agency had failed to examine relevant data around any incinerator.

On 20 August 2010, I wrote to Professor Rod Thomson, Director of Public Health at Shropshire County Primary Care Trust to ask him to get the IPPC permit issued to Veolia by the Environment Agency withdrawn. (8)

On 25 August 2010, I wrote to Mr Kim Ryley, Chief Executive of Shropshire Council and enclosed a copy of my letter to Professor Thomson dated 20 August 2010 and requested that copies of both letters be given to every Councillor. (9)

On 27 August 2010, Professor Rod Thompson, Director of Public Health at Shropshire County Primary Care Trust wrote the following in an e-mail to Professor Harsh Duggal, Dr Robert Carr and Julie Thornby:

“Dear Harsh, Rob Carr will have briefed you regarding the recent correspondence we have received from a local resident regarding his concerns about the proposal for an incinerator in the north of Shrewsbury. This resident is challenging the expert opinion provided by the HPA therefore I’m sending you copies of his letter and the supporting documentation so that you are in a position to respond to his concerns. I am proposing to send the gentleman the attached letter in the meantime. Let me know if you are happy with its format. I will also be discussing our response with Juie Thornby the PCTs Lead Director for Public Engagement, hence I’ve copied the draft letter to her.

Many thanks Rod” (10)

On 1 September 2010, Shropshire Council’s planning committee refused permission for Veolia’s incinerator.

On 6 September 2010, Professor Harsh Duggal wrote the following in an e-mail to Rod Thomson, Rob Carr and Julie Thornby:

“Thanks Rod-Rob will liaise with you on this.
Harash” (10)

At the date of writing, I’ve had no response from Professor Harsh Duggal to my letter of 20 August 2010 which he’s been sitting on for seven months and I’ve had no reply from Shropshire County PCT to my “chasing-up” e-mail of 30 March 2011. (11)

There’s been an appalling lack of due diligence by the Health Protection Agency, the Environment Agency and Shropshire County Primary Care Trust over the “incinerator issue”.

The Environment Agency rely on the Health Protection Agency for expert advice & opinion on whether or not there’s any harm to health from incinerator emissions.

The Primary Care Trusts do likewise in England – as do the Health Boards in Wales.

On 14-15 March 2001, the Environment Agency (EA) organised a workshop at Coventry as “an awareness-raising event for Environment Agency and CLARINET practioners”. The resulting document “Epidemiology Workshop on Human Health Tools and Techniques” was published in June 2001 (ISBN 1-85-705592-6) and includes a “case study” on pages 21-24 entitled: “Health effects from incinerator air emissions to a local community” (2) which starts:

“This case study is a hypothetical example presented to illustrate a process industry issue that the Environment Agency may get involved with as a statutory consultee. In this example, a developer has submitted an application to the relevant local authority to develop a waste incinerator plant (with a capacity of burning 300,000 tonnes per annum) in the middle of an urban conurbation. The developer has submitted detailed information on the proposal to the relevant planning authority. This information was passed on to the Environment Agency.”

The discussion on page 23 of the above EA report showed lack of confidence in estimating health effects based on assumed exposure to emissions based on “modelling”:

“The air dispersion of NOX, PM10, SO2 and lead from the incinerator stack to the surrounding area was modelled in order to estimate ground level air concentrations. The health impacts on the local population were then estimated, assuming that the proposed waste incinerator was operational.” (2)

And:

“Can we be confident that the predicted estimates are conservative enough to ensure that the local population will not suffer any adverse health impacts? And, based on the information available, should an epidemiology study be considered at all?

The group was confident that (based on the modelling) PM10 and SO2 emissions from the incinerator will not constitute a health problem to the local population.” (2)

The above conclusion shows that the Environment Agency have been basing their judgements on assumed dispersion of the wrong-sized particles when the simplest – and most obvious course of action would be to examine relevant health/mortality data around existing incinerators and comparing with data in an area free from industrial PM2.5 emissions.

In 2001, the Environment Agency did consider that:

“The following approaches were considered as being of potential use:
• Prospective cohort study. Use of GP records/hospital admissions and discharges records and mortality rates. Collect relevant emission data from the operator. Use these in air dispersion modelling to determine ground level concentrations. Look at trends and possible correlations between increased air concentrations and hospital admissions or mortality rates.
• Ecological study. Identify a similar area (in socio-economic status) which has a waste incinerator that has been operational for a number of years. Compare historical health records for the area before and after site became operational. Concentrate on hospital admission records.
Determine whether any monitoring is in place at the existing site, and if so look at trends with time in terms of both health effects and ambient air concentrations.” (2)

The Environment Agency appear to have forgotten the most important part of the case study which states:

“Health data are also required to establish a link between ambient levels
of pollution and health effects (for example ward admissions, death certificate for cause of death).” (2)

Veolia are responsible for operating several incinerators in England, e.g.:

1. SELCHP, which is in New Cross electoral ward (London Borough of Lewisham) which had the highest death rate out of the 625 wards in London for deaths under 85 years, from all causes, during the five-year period 1999-2003. The “Standardised Mortality Ratios” (SMRs) i.e. the “death rates” for all electoral wards in England & Wales were revealed by the Office for National Statistics following this Parliamentary Question by Philip Dunne MP:

http://www.philipdunne.com/content/birth...

Places with a “Standardised Mortality Ratio” greater than 100 have a death rate that’s higher than the average rate for England & Wales. New Cross has SMR=161 which can be seen via the 1.6Mb “persons” file at:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Pr...

2. Tyesely incinerator, in Birmingham, is surrounded by a cluster of six electoral wards which all have very high infant death rates ranging from 10.0 per 1,000 to 12.6 per 1,000 live births, based on aggregated 2004-2009 ONS data. These high infant death wards can be seen coloured red on the map of electoral wards in Birmingham and Solihull. (12)

http://www.ukhr.org/incineration/tyseley...

The same “Tyseley” map refers to a study (J Epidemiol. 2004 May;14(3):83-93.) of infant deaths around 63 incinerators in Japan which concluded:

“Our study shows a peak-decline in risk with distance from the municipal solid waste incinerators for infant deaths and infant deaths with all congenital malformations combined.”

The full report of the above Japanese study is at:

http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jea/...

The “Tyseley” map also has extracts from this written reply (Hansard, 30 November 2009: Column 539W) to Paul Holmes MP:

Incinerators: Health Hazards
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect on public health of emissions from a functioning incinerator; [302956]
(2) with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Lewes of 17 September 2007, Official Report, column 2209W, on infant mortality: incineration, what recent assessment his Department has made of the correlation between the presence of a functioning incinerator and the incidence of infant mortality in that area. [302957]
Ann Keen: The Department has made no recent assessments of the effect on public health of emissions from incinerators, or the effects on infant mortality.
The health protection agency (HPA) recently reviewed the latest research on the impact on health of emissions to air from modern municipal waste incinerators and published a statement in September 2009. It concluded that, while it is not possible to rule out adverse health effects completely, any potential damage from modern, well-run and regulated incinerators is likely to be so small that it would be undetectable. The advice is available on the agency's website at:
www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&;HPAwebSta...
The HPA also advised that studies of public health around modern, well managed municipal waste incinerators are not recommended, since any possible health effects are likely to be small.

The above written reply is at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...

3. Bernard Road incinerator (Sheffield) is in Darnall electoral ward, which is one of the three (out of 28) electoral wards in Sheffield which had infant death rates greater than 9.0 per 1,000 live births (range 9.2 to 10.7 per 1,000 live births) for the aggregated six-year period 2004-2009 (ONS data).

The three electoral wards in adjacent Rotherham with the highest infant death rates for the same 6-year period 2004-2006 (range 11.2 to 14.2 per 1,000 live births) form a single group that’s downwind of Tyesely incinerator (Keppel, Rawmarsh, and Rotherham West) and these 3 wards had a total of 2,871 live births and 37 infant deaths recorded by ONS, i.e. an average infant mortality rate of 12.9 per 1,00 live births. Rotherham West ward shares a common boundary with Darnall ward and is immediately downwind of the incinerator with a south-west wind. Rotherham West’s infant mortality rate for 2004-2009 is the highest of all 215 electoral wards in South and West Yorkshire (, ie the Councils of Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, & Wakefield).

In the London Borough of Ealing, the electoral ward Southfield had zero infant deaths and 1,533 live births recorded by ONS over the 7-year period 2001-2007. Southfield, unlike Rotherham West, isn’t close to, or downwind of an incinerator. Rotherham West had a total of 1,267 live births and 18 infant deaths recorded by ONS in the six years 2004-2009.

In 2007, a study (Epidemiology:Volume 18(5) SupplSeptember 2007p S125)
of infant deaths around Italian incinerators was published and the conclusion was as follows:

“Findings call for further insight by analytic epidemiologic studies to confirm possible association between infant mortality and living near incinerators.”

The abstract (13) of the above study is at:

http://journals.lww.com/epidem/Fulltext/...

In January 2010, the following questions were put to London Mayor Boris Johnson regarding incinerators:

http://legacy.london.gov.uk/assembly/ass...

Incinerators
Question No: 41 / 2010
Darren Johnson
A constituent asks, is there any evidence to suggest that the SELCHP and Kings College Hospital incinerators which flank Southwark contributed to the Borough having the highest infant mortality rate in London in 2008?

Question No: 42 / 2010
Darren Johnson
Will you publish electoral ward-level data and a map showing the 2002-2008 infant mortality rates in London?

The May 2010 “infant mortality” report by the Greater London Authority can be seen at:

http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/f...

Page 7 of the GLA report lists electoral wards with infant mortality rates ranging from 9.0 to 14.0 per 1,000 live births – but fails to assign any values. The report also fails to answer Question No: 41/2010 by not bothering to do a “literature search” for “incinerator, infant mortality” which would have revealed the 2004 Japanese and 2007 Italian studies.

Page 2 of the report has Table 1 listing infant death rates for London Boroughs in each of the seven years 2002-2008 and also the aggregated rates for those 7 years. Note that Southwark has the highest 2002-2008 infant death rate at 7.2 per 1,000 live births and that Newham had the 2nd-highest at 6.5 per 1,000. On pages 4 & 5 of the same report, the author is so keen to “prove” that deprivation is the cause of infant deaths that Newham is wrongly assigned the highest infant mortality rate in 2002-2008 instead of Southwark.

If the author of the GLA report had looked at the London Health Observatory’s website, she’d have seen that the LHO had examined infant death rates in Southwark (London Health Observatory: “Infant mortality in Southwark “, Fahri Seljmani and Justine Fitzpatrick, November 2003) and concluded that :

“there are other factors than deprivation, specific to Southwark, and possibly Lambeth and Lewisham that were contributing to the higher (infant) mortality in these areas. “

Discussion
Borough level
This analysis has compared infant mortality rates in Southwark with the other boroughs in South East London Strategic Health Authority and with two other areas in London with a similar deprivation score: Haringey and Islington. Generally Southwark had higher rates for all the measures of infant death than Bexley and Bromley, similar rates to Lambeth and Lewisham and higher rates than Haringey and Islington. This implies that there are other factors than deprivation, specific to Southwark, and possibly Lambeth and Lewisham that were contributing to the higher mortality in these areas. (14)

http://www.lho.org.uk/viewResource.aspx?...

Newham Borough is downwind of Veolia’s SELCHP incinerator with SW wind, and when infant death rates are mapped in electoral wards in the Boroughs of Newham, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham, and Havering, there’s a clearly defined pattern of wards with high infant death rates forming a swathe that’s downwind of SELCHP.

The two Enfield wards listed on the GLA’s report as having high infant death rates are Upper Edmonton and Lower Edmonton. These wards are either side of Edmonton Green ward, which is home to Edmonton incinerator.

The Brent ward with highest 2002-2008 infant mortality rate is Northwick Park , which is home to St Mark’s Hospital incinerator and will also be subject to PM2.5 emissions from Colnbrook incinerator.

The Bexley ward with the highest 2002-2008 infant mortality rate is Sidcup, which is immediately downwind of Sidcup incinerator.

Chingford Green ward (Waltham Forest) is downwind of Edmonton incinerator (with SW wind) and is listed in the GLA report as having very high infant death rate, which should have been known to the PCT and Council before this article of 2 August 2007:

http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/wf...

On 28 March 2006, The Sun article: “Brum babies 8 times more likely to die - Factbox” listed the Primary Care Trusts with the ten highest and ten lowest infant mortality rates (2004-2006 ONS data) as follows. The ten “highest infant mortality” PCTs are all exposed to incinerator emissions and the ten lowest are free from such emissions. (15)

10 WORST AREAS

1 Central Birmingham.. 12.4 ( deaths per 1,000 births)

2 North Kirklees11.2

3 Central Bradford10.4

4 East Birmingham9.2

5 Central Manchester8.6

6 South East Sheffield8.4

7 Nottingham City8.3

8 Coventry8.2

9 Southwark8.1

10 Newham7.9

10 BEST AREAS

1 East Elmbridge and Mid Surrey1.5

2 East Devon1.8

3 Central Suffolk1.9

4 South Somerset2.2

5 Chiltern and Sth Bucks2.2

6 Hertsmere2.4

7 Mid-Hampshire2.4

8 Melton, Rutland and Harborough2.6

9 Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale2.6

10 Maldon2.7

The “infant mortality” section of the 1944 edition of Black’s Medical Dictionary has the following sentence:

"As a general rule it (i.e. infant mortality) is lowest in agricultural districts, higher in thickly populated mining and manufacturing regions, and highest in large towns where textile industries are carried on and where female labour is largely employed."
(Black’s Medical Dictionary, 1944 edition, page 471) (16)

The above sentence suggests that increased rates of exposure to combustion emissions (industrial & domestic) is the main driving factor for infant mortality and that “deprivation”, in terms of low wages, can’t be relevant – otherwise the agricultural workers, with their historically low wages, would have high rates – there being little work outside agriculture in agricultural districts.

The following are enclosed:

1. “Town ‘missing out on safer waste site’”, Shrewsbury Chronicle, 25 October 2007
2. “Epidemiology Workshop on Human Health Tools and Techniques”, June 2001, cover and pages 1, 21, 22, 23, & 24
3. “Chemical danger testing”, Western Daily Press, 6 August 2003
4. Something disturbing in the air”, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, 24 June 2005
5. “Incinerator could kill our children”, Dorking Advertiser, 10 January 2008
6. “Chill wind over fumes risk from incinerator”, Surrey Mirror, 22 May 2008
7. “Incinerator fury as bosses admit to no health checks: Protestors say agency is failing to protect public from illness”, Dorking Advertiser, 22 May 2008
8. My 3-page letter dated 20 August 2010 to Professor Rod Thomson, Director of Public Health at Shropshire County Primary Care Trust
9. My 2-page letter dated 25 August 2010 to Kim Ryley, Chief Executive of Shropshire Council.
10. Single sheet of E-mail correspondence obtained under FoI from Shropshire County PCT regarding the Health Protection Agency’s chance to respond to my letter of 20 August 2010 to Professor Rod Thomson (8).
11. E-mail dated 30 March 2011 to Shropshire Council PCT requesting confirmation of Professor Harsh Duggal’s response to my letter to Professor Thomson (8).
12. Map showing high infant death rates in electoral wards clustered around Tyseley incinerator.
13. Abstract of Italian study (2007) of infant deaths around incinerators.
14. Cover, index, and page 27 of “Infant mortality in Southwark”, November 2003
15. “Brum babies 8 times more likely to die – Factbox”, The Sun, 28 March 2006
16. Black’s Medical Dictionary, page 471, 1944 edition.
17. Letter to me from Justin McCracken, Chief Executive of the HPA, dated 8 June 2009.

The CIEH article of 24 June 2005 (4) mentions savings of $193 billion in the US after further reducing industrial PM2.5s. The UK press was apparently asleep when this huge saving was reported in the Washington Post of 27 September 2003, but Eric Pianin’s article “Study Finds Net Gain From Pollution Rules”,,which starts:

A new White House study concludes that environmental regulations are well worth the costs they impose on industry and consumers, resulting in significant public health improvements and other benefits to society. The findings overturn a previous report that officials now say was defective.
The report, issued this month by the Office of Management and Budget, concludes that the health and social benefits of enforcing tough new clean-air regulations during the past decade were five to seven times greater in economic terms than were the costs of complying with the rules. The value of reductions in hospitalization and emergency room visits, premature deaths and lost workdays resulting from improved air quality were estimated between $120 billion and $193 billion from October 1992 to September 2002….continues”

can be read at:

http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2003/Gai...

Refusing the incinerator and opting for plasma gasification will save lives and money.

Shawbury ward, which is downwind of the proposed Harlescott incinerator, has had zero infant deaths recorded by ONS in each of the 17 years 1993-2009, the entire record I’ve had access to. Compare that rate with the infant mortality rate in any electoral ward near any incinerator and with the “expert” opinion of Justin McCracken that “the reason that we have not studied the ‘rates of illness or premature deaths at electoral ward level around any incinerator’, is that the number of people around an incinerator is too small to detect whether or not the incinerator is having an impact on health.”. (17)

Yours sincerely,

Michael Ryan BSc, C Eng, MICE

Yours faithfully,

Michael Ryan

Enquiries,

Thank you for your e-mail. It is receiving attention and, where a reply
is required, we will send one as soon as possible.

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Long, Martin,

4 Attachments

Dear Mr Ryan

Please find attached response to your request and relevant enclosures.

<<ryan.doc>> [1]Outlook File Attachment <<APP-EPR-11-36.pdf>> <<foi
complaint leaflet.pdf>>

Yours sincerely

Martin Long
Planning Inspectorate

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Long, Martin,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Ryan

Apologies - fop some reason there appears to have been a problem in the
previous email with  this attachment.  I've re-attached so hopefully you
can now access the information.

<<incinerator & biomass.xls>>

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Dear Planning Inspectorate,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Planning Inspectorate's handling of my FOI request 'Instructions to Inspectors after discovering that the Health Protection Agency hadn't examined health and mortality data around any incinerator'.

The Planning Inspectorate, on learning that the Health Protection Agency (HPA) had failed to examine relevant data around any existing incinerator – thereby rendering invalid their opinion of negligible risk to health – had the opportunity and also an implied obligation to inform their Inspectors that the HPA’s advice should be ignored together with the opinion of the Environment Agency (EA) and Primary care Trusts (PCTs) who rely on the HPA’s advice.

The Planning Inspectorate might not have the power to require the HPA, EA and PCTs to attend public inquiries into incinerator appeals, but they did have both the power and opportunity to write to the above bodies to invite them to attend public inquiries where their opinions could be cross-examined in public – or to change their shared opinion
regarding health effects of incinerator emissions.

Back in November 2000, the Environment Agency admitted that they had no idea of the adverse health impact of modern incinerators as seen from the first section of “Watchdog admits ignorance of incinerator health risks” (Guardian, 29 November 2000) which starts as follows:

“The environment agency admitted yesterday to MPs that it had no idea how dangerous Britain's new generation of incinerators will be to public health.
Paul Leinster, director of environment protection at the agency, told the Commons environment sub-committee investigating waste strategy that the evaluation of dangers of air pollution to public health "were at an early stage"….continues

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2000/...

I find it difficult to believe that the Planning Inspectorate
1. failed to make any internal comment on the fact that the HPA had admitted that they hadn’t checked any relevant data around any existing incinerator to prove that there was no damage to health
2. failed to write to the HPA to get their comment on the above point
3. failed to write to the Inspectors who were currently or due to be hearing appeals about incinerators to alert them to the fact that the HPA’s advice must be disregarded.

I should therefore be grateful if an additional search is made to reveal documents relating to the above.

I have already claimed to the Information Commissioner’s office that the Shrewsbury incinerator public inquiry was a “prearranged farce”:

http://ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/deci...

Reference: FER0474711
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) Decision notice
Date: Public Authority:
Address:
2 April 2013
Planning Inspectorate (an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government)
4/11 Eagle Wing Temple Quay House 2 The Square Bristol BS1 6PN
Decision (including any steps ordered)
1. The complainant has requested information about a concluded planning inquiry. The Commissioner’s decision is that no information is held save for that which has previously been made available to the complainant. No further action is required.
Request and response

On 2 April 2012, the complainant wrote to the Planning Inspectorate and requested information in the following terms:
“I’ve seen your email to [name redacted] regarding the above incinerator at Shrewsbury and draw your attention to section 100 of the decision document (dated 10 January 2012), which is pasted in below, where the Inspector claimed that the proposed incinerator at Halescott “would have a low risk of harm to human health”.
‘100. On the third main issue, I find that the proposed EWF would have a low risk of harm to human health’
The Inspector’s words suggest that he either had access to data other than that presented or examined at the public inquiry which I was a Rule 6 party objector and at which [name redacted] was my expert witness, or that the inquiry process was a prearranged farce.

The following is the letter I sent to Sir Michael Pitt, Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate,

Sir Michael Pitt
Chief Executive
Planning Inspectorate
Room 3/13
Temple Quay House,
2 The Square,
Temple Quay, 21 June 2012
Bristol
By Recorded delivery
Dear Sir Michael,

Failure to comply with Freedom of Information request
Regarding Appeal Decision APP/L3245/A/11/2146219

I’ve enclosed copies of my e-mails to the Planning Inspectorate dated 2 April 2012 and 9 May 2012, which were both ignored, plus my letter dated 30 May 2012, which resulted in the unsatisfactory e-mail from Al Summers dated 6 June 2012, which is also enclosed.

Mr Summers seemed unaware of the fact that the task before Mr Woodcock, the Inspector at the Shrewsbury incinerator public inquiry, is very simple.

Mr Woodcock either had or did not have access to evidence that wasn’t presented to the inquiry – either before or during proceedings, and which has persuaded him to decide that incinerator emissions have “low risk of harm to health” as stated in section 100 of his decision document.

100. On the third main issue, I find that the proposed EWF would have a low risk of harm to human health.

The purpose of my FoI request is to either:

1. obtain copies of previously undlsclosed documents that have apparently persuaded Mr Woodcock that there’s a “low risk of harm to health”
or

2. obtain written confirmation that Mr Woodcock has no such additional evidence and made his decision based solely on evidence presented either prior to the Inquiry or during cross examination – none of which showed evidence of lack of harm to health.

I’ve also enclosed a copy of my letter to Ms Banwell dated 2 April 2011 as well as to the very relevant letter, titled “Concerns on biomass” by Mr Ray Guselli (Shropshire Star, 12 June 2012), in which Mr Guselli asks for “evidence of ‘lack of harm’” and where he also challenges the Planning Inspectorate, and the Inspector, by writing:

“I’ve seen from your (i.e. Shropshire Star) website that incinerator emissions were a matter of concern last year and yet the planning inspector decided to allow Veolia’s appeal. If he found evidence of ‘lack of harm”, why hasn’t it been publicised?”

It’s a simple issue, which needed only a very short period of time to deal with. If I’ve not received the correct response within seven working days from receipt of this letter I shall refer the matter to the Information Commissioner.

“Health” was a major issue at the public inquiry as reported by the Shropshire Star in the enclosed articles: “Burner safety claims questioned at inquiry: Protester says not enough research was done into effects on health” (12 October 2011), and “Public health fears key in burner appeal: Inspector urged to consider concerns when making decisions” (5 November 2011).

Yours sincerely,

Michael Ryan BSc, C Eng, MICE
**********************************
Here are links for the Shropshire Star articles of 12 October 2011 and 5 November 2011 regarding the incinerator appeal:

http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2011/...

http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2011/...

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/in...

Yours faithfully,

Michael Ryan

Enquiries,

Thank you for your e-mail. It is receiving attention and, where a reply
is required, we will send one as soon as possible.

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Long, Martin,

Dear Mr Ryan

With apologies for the delay, I acknowledge receipt of your email
requesting an internal review.

We normally aim to conduct such reviews within 20 working days of
receipt (22 July) but you should note that the Environmental Information
Regulations permits up to 40 working days (19 August 2013). However, if
we cannot complete the review by 22 July then we will write to you
again.

Yours sincerely

Martin Long
Information Management
Planning Inspectorate

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Long, Martin,

Dear Mr Ryan

Further to my email below, I apologise but we have not been able to
conduct the internal review within 20 working days. You should still
expect a response within the 40 working day period (19 August)
stipulated in Regulation 11(4) of the Environmental Information
Regulations.

Yours sincerely

Martin Long
Planning Inspectorate

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Gray, Ashley,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Ryan

Please see my attached Word file containing my response to your request
that we carry out an internal review of our response to your request for
information under the FOI Act 2004/EI Regulations 2004:

<<Michael Ryan, FOI Review.doc>>

Yours sincerely

Ashley K Gray
Section Manager
Quality Unit
Corporate Services Directorate 
The Planning Inspectorate
1/23 Hawk Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square, Temple Quay
Bristol BS1 6PN

Tel:  0303 444 5339
E-mail: [email address]

show quoted sections

 

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Michael Ryan left an annotation ()

This FoI request has been ignored by the Planning Insoectorate - just like this letter which was printed in the Western Daily Press on 1 October 2013 and which must have been read by at least one employee at the Planning Inspectorate - as it's their local paper:

"Witnesses must be able to give evidence

I read that the public inquiry into the proposed incinerator at Javelin Park (Western Daily Press September 20) "will focus on two key areas - location and visual impact".

Unfortunately, no matter what arguments or evidence of harm to health from incinerator emissions are submitted at such inquiries - or the failure of incinerator companies to produce any evidence of "lack of harm to health" - the decision by the inspector will dismiss all health concerns.

The Planning Inspectorate's guidelines for inspectors need to be changed as they require them to disregard all health concerns raised by individuals and to only consider the expert opinions of the Environment Agency (EA), the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).

None of the above three expert bodies were present at the Shrewsbury incinerator public inquiry in 2011 at which I was a Rule 6 Party objector, despite my prior request to the Planning Inspectorate that they be present to be cross-examined by my expert witness, Dr Dick van Steenis.

Both the EA and PCTs take advice from the HPA which has failed to examine relevant data around any incinerator despite promising to do so in the Daily Press article "Chemical danger testing" (August 6, 2003).

The Planning Inspectorate is aware that incinerators are deemed to be safe by EA, PCTs and HPA despite no proper health studies which makes the process the prearranged farce I complained about to the Information Commissioner (FER0474711, April 2, 2013).

What kind of justice would result if witnesses weren't present in court to give evidence and be crossexamined? I hope that Glosvain's barrister will take note and help bring an end to this expensive and dangerous farce.

Michael Ryan Shrewsbury , Shropshire

Michael Ryan left an annotation ()

Here's the text of my letter in the South Wales Echo (11 October 2013):

" Is public view listened to?

I'm glad to discover that Sir Michael Pitt, chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate, found time to write to the Echo in January 2011 about the incinerator proposal for Merthyr Tydfil, but I was very surprised to read the following: "Finally, I would like to reassure your readers that the IPC is entirely independent and considers all the evidence, including including the views of the public, when examining a proposal."

The reality is that views of the public regarding concerns over adverse health impacts from incinerator emissions are ignored as planning inspectors were told to only consider the views of the Environment Agency, Health Protection Agency and Primary Care Trusts.

If Sir Michael had read the letters pages of the Western Mail and the Echo on October 20 and 21, 2010, he would have known that none of the above public bodies had checked relevant data around any existing incinerator - thereby making false the opinion that emissions don't harm health.

Michael Ryan Shrewsbury
**************

Sir Michael Pitt wrote to the SW Echo shortly before becoming Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate in March 2011.

Michael Ryan left an annotation ()

Ashley K Gray's letter to me dated 19 August 2013 stated:

"The only evidence on which Inspector Woodcock based his decision was that submitted by the parties themselves at the time of the appeal. His role was to assess such evidence using his own professional judgement, in light of relevant local and national policies, and reach his own impartial conclusions. I am entirely satisfied from studying the matter thoroughly that he did so. I have found nothing unusual or untoward in either his reasoning or his approach to the decision-making process."

Ashley K Gray should have looked carefully at pages 26 & 27 of Inspector Woolcock's decision document for the Shrewsbury incinerator appeal where the following is written:

"Mr Ryan submitted a number of maps documenting (infant) mortality rates upwind and downwind of incinerators, and health statistics for localities near incinerators and power stations.84 However, no reliable inference can be drawn from this data. A whole host of possible confounding factors exist. These are other causes of the adverse health effect of interest, and they preclude any reasonable conclusions about likely cause and effect in the evidence adduced by Mr Ryan. Chief amongst these is socioeconomic status, for which there is much evidence as to its importance as a predictor of state of health. This is a very complex area which would require detailed epidemiological studies to provide any meaningful analysis of the Office of National Statistics data and other statistics submitted by Mr Ryan."

Mr Woolcock omitted the word "infant", which I've added in brackets above and Mr Woolcock also assumed that socio-economic status is an important "predictor of state of health" when the ONS data provided in this FoI request shows that there's no possibility of a causal link between infant mortality and socio-economic status - otherwise the infant mortality rates in these four London Boroughs would have remained fairly constant over time and reflecting the socio-economic status of the Boroughs where Tower Hamlets was "most deprived" and Wandsworth "least deprived".

http://ukhr.eu/incineration/selchp.htm

The above graph is based on ONS data released under FoI.

Low birthweight is known to be a risk factor for infant mortality and the percentage of low birthweight babies rose in Newham after SELCHP started.

Low birthweight, stillbirth and infant deaths are all known to be linked to air pollution and rates of all three rose in Newham after SELCHP started.

Low birthweight is in the news today:

http://news.sky.com/story/1154600/air-po...

Air Pollution Linked To Low Birthweight
A large-scale study links even low air pollution from traffic fumes and industrial emissions to low birthweight.

Pregnant women who are exposed to low levels of air pollution are at an increased risk of giving birth at term to low birthweight babies, according to a large-scale study.
Air pollutants - in particular fine particulates found in traffic fumes and industrial air pollutants - increased the risk of low birthweight and reduced average head circumference of babies born at term, research has shown......continues

Margaret Eames, Head of Public Health Intelligence at Barking & Dagenham, is very concerned about the adverse impact of PM2.5 emissions from incinerators as seen from the following in the Welwyn Hatfield Times article of 12 October 2013:

"Mrs Eames, formerly head of public health intelligence for Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, confronted Professor Bridges with a World Health Organisation report, published in July this year.
The report probes the risks of tiny particles, known as PM2.5s, concluding high atmospheric levels can cause heart attacks, asthma, and other serious health problems.
Mrs Eames, who will be giving her own detailed evidence on October 22, told Professor Bridges: “It will be too late if this incinerator is built if there is a health impact.
“People will be dying if you leave it to be built.”

http://www.whtimes.co.uk/news/people_wil...

The Planning Inspectorate have shown themselves to be unwilling to alter any procedures or instructions to Inspectors to enable public inquiries to reach conclusions based upon scientific evidence rather than assumed spin. The following is also from Ashley Gray's letter of 19 August 2013:

"You will appreciate from what I have said above that the Planning Inspectorate would have no reason to comment, either internally or to the HPA, on the merits of their evidence presented to this appeal. Acting in such a way would serve to assist one party’s case over that of others and would have effectively introduced the very bias into the system that many people would likely find abhorrent in a democratic society."

If the truth were allowed to prevail about the adverse health impact of incineration, it's unlikely that many people would be likely to find it abhorrent.

Meg Crosby left an annotation ()

They definitely study this stuff, though it's not made public. Years ago, when I studied Geology at university, we were told about studying particulates in the atmosphere. As I understand it, it's usual to do studies of the way a plume from an incinerator or industrial coolant tower behaves - which way the plume will go (according to prevailing wind), and the touchdown cone it will produce, usually about 50 miles away. Have you thought about asking for the isopleth maps they make of this data, and the particulate density at ground level in the touchdown zone?

Fundamentals of Stack Gas Dispersion by Milton R. Beychok is a good source.

Also, try the UK Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling Liaison Committee (ADMLC) which used to look at this sort of thing. It was still around in 2011. It's on this site, though no requests have been made. (Look it up on Wikipedia - some heavy hitters)

Michael Ryan left an annotation ()

I'm grateful to Meg Crosby for her comments. Worse health outcomes due to airborne pollution are usually ignored and legal action for redress rarely succeed (Crosby birth defects an exception). The "reason" often cited for worse health and higher premature death rates is low socio-economic status irrespective of the facts that exposure to industrial PM2.5 emissions is known to cause premature deaths and that polluting industries tend to affect poorer areas more than richer ones.

This graph, based upon ONS data released in December 2012, shows that varying rates of exposure to airborne pollution is a major factor in infant mortality rates as the rates are falling in all four Boroughs prior to SELCHP starting up in 1993 and rising in only the three Boroughs most exposed to emissions from SELCHP after that date. The fall in rates prior to SELCHP are almost certainly due to the cleaner gas "North Sea Gas" being used instead of "town gas".

http://ukhr.eu/incineration/selchp.htm

I hope that the Planning Inspectorate will contact the Western Daily Press to confirm that the content of my letter printed on 30 October 2013 is correct.

Here's the text:

"Health concerns in incinerator debate

I was delighted to read: "ministers must have the 'common sense' power to call back decisions and announcements released in error" in the Western Daily Press article 'Court decision's hailed as a victory for real localism' (October 22), as "common sense" has been absent with regard to health effects in every decision document I've seen following public inquiries for incinerators. The Planning Inspectorate has failed to inform its political masters that there is no evidence to support the "official" opinion that incinerator emissions don't harm health, and that inspectors at public inquiries must be relieved of their obligation to ignore health concerns raised by individuals and to only consider the opinion of the experts who haven't examined any relevant data around existing incinerators.

Justin McCracken, chief executive of the Health Protection Agency, wrote the following in his letter to me dated June 8, 2009: "Furthermore, the reason we have not studied the 'rates of illness or premature deaths at electoral ward level around any incinerator ' is that the number of people around an incinerator is too small to detect whether or not the incinerator is having an impact on health".

Studies of infant deaths around 63 incinerators in Japan and 27 incinerators in Italy found elevated rates of infant deaths and that's exactly what we have here in the UK where "common sense" has been absent over the incinerator issue.

Michael Ryan by email"

& here's link to the letter sent to me by Justin McCracken, the Chief Executive of the Health Protection Agency:

http://www.ukhr.eu/incineration/justinmc...