Clarification on Plymouth’s incinerator

An article on the Herald website dated 6 April about the incinerator in Plymouth contained information that was misleading, in particular the headline.

The headline was ‘Plymouth’s incinerator is causing the highest pollution levels ever recorded in a housing area’.

Plymouth City Council wants to clarify that this is not the case and provide reassurance to local residents.

Professor Kelechi Nnoaham, Director of Public Health for Plymouth City Council, said:
“The information included in the Herald article was based on ‘modelled’ values, rather than actual recorded values. The model predicted values which were far below the European Union Air Quality Standard. In addition the comparison made in the headline seems to refer to the fact that Plume Plotter has not been used to model many sites.

“We have also investigated the issues identified in the article and can report that the Environment Agency (who regulate MVV Devonport Ltd) have confirmed that there have been no breaches of permitted emission levels from the plant, and that emissions are in fact below the levels estimated at the planning stage.

“It is really important for us to clarify the situation, particularly for residents in the areas referred to in the article of Barne Barton, St Budeaux and Devonport. The levels of Nitrogen Oxide emissions from the incinerator are lower than the permitted level, which match European standards.

“Plymouth City Council in conjunction with DEFRA monitor several components of air quality at a range of different sites, as well as looking at data collected by MVV, and the levels recorded prior to the MVV Devonport plant opening are the same as they are now – there has been no change.

“Air quality is an important issue but the public should be reassured that measurements of air quality around the area have not significantly changed as a result of the emissions from the incinerator.”

Additional information:

Predicted levels during planning process
During the planning process, MVV Devonport carried out some modelling, which used software to predict what type of emissions might occur. The modelling predicted that the incinerator would increase levels by around 10% compared to background levels. This means levels would remain well within the European Union Environmental Quality Standards.
DEFRA measurements
The DEFRA unit on Armada Way has been in place for a number of years and has showed no change in levels of Nitrogen Oxide in the air from before the incinerator was built to now. Monthly averages are around 20-25 microgram per m3 i.e. below limits. MVV also monitor NOx in the areas around the incinerator, and the EA report that this has not raised any concerns.

Emissions levels
You can view MVV’s own data online here