Incinerator proposal raises serious concerns

"This proposed incinerator at Barton Stacey in the Test Valley raises serious environmental concerns"

Nick Measham, Salmon & Trout Conservation

S&TC do not normally comment on local planning issues but the proposed incinerator at Barton Stacey in the Test Valley raises grave national environmental issues:

1. Abstraction in the headwaters of a fragile chalk stream, the River Test which has an endangered population of genetically-distinct Atlantic salmon

2. A pollution threat from carcinogenic dioxins and endocrine disrupters in the incinerator’s gas discharge which will settle on the chalk and leach into the aquifer with a threat to insect, animal and human life.

Please respond to the consultation at:


The case against the incinerator is on:

As a UK charity with the objective of protecting wild fish and their habitats the proposed incinerator raises two issues of direct concern to us. It is for others to discuss the wider negative environmental impacts stemming from the construction and operation of the incinerator.

S&TC's first concern is with water supply. We do not believe that Southern Water Services (SWS) has the ground water resources to supply the stated required demand of 135 megalitres a year continuously from an already depleted aquifer without risking environmental damage. The fundamental direction of abstraction policy should be to reduce dependency on the aquifer, not increase it. Should SWS seek to supply from its surface water abstractions, we also believe it does not have the resources to meet the incinerator’s demand without increasing stress on the already over-abstracted Rivers Test and Itchen, until it has developed permanent offsets to meet its recent abstraction licence reductions. The proposed siting of a highly water consumptive plant in the headwaters of such a rare, sensitive and stressed environmental asset as the River Test is a fundamental error. The precautionary principle should apply in this case.

We believe that to safeguard this fragile ecosystem there must be a full examination of the environmental impact of the proposed abstraction, whether or not SWS believes it is able to meet the demand, both now and in the future.

Our second concern is with the impact of toxic chemicals, especially carcinogenic dioxins which will be discharged within the incinerator’s gas/steam plume and also retained within the ash. While we understand there are plans to safely dispose of the ash, some 60% of the dioxins can be expected to be released within the gas/steam plume and, although these toxins become inert above 850 degrees centigrade heat, they will reactivate once the temperature cools. The dioxins will settle on the surface of the surrounding chalk. This will impact insects, wild birds, mammals and livestock and will inevitably leach into the aquifer and quite possibly directly in the river. The groundwater, and subsequently the river, will be polluted with a deadly, carcinogenic chemical cocktail which will also possess endocrine disrupting properties, posing serious threat to the ecosystem of this fragile chalkstream environment. Again, we expect a full environmental impact assessment of this potential impact to be carried out.

Given the potential threat to the chalkstream environment from excessive water abstraction, and to insect, animal and human health from toxic dioxins, the precautionary principle again implies that this project is potentially too dangerous to be sited in its intended position and should therefore be scrapped.

Reporting with a purpose

S&TC are a national organisation and we use evidence from local case studies to help instigate policy changes that will benefit UK wild fish populations. But, this is just part of the value - we are making all our Riverfly Census findings available so they can be used to inform local management and drive action.

Each individual river report is based on three years of surveying data. Where possible, we have linked up our findings with other existing literature and data. Using the available information we suggest where local fishing and/or conservation groups can focus their management efforts to achieve the best health outcomes for each of the 12 original Census rivers.

Some of our local reports can be found on the slider below. Alternatively, visit the Riverfly Census page and scroll down to the map.