GUEST COLUMNIST: Why we were happy to be a PAIN for eight years!

editorial image

Last week Chad revealed that the firm behind plans to build an incinerator at the former Rufford Pit site had finally admitted defeat and ended its bid for planning permission - meaning local campaign group People Against Incineration (PAIN) could celebrate the end of an eight-year battle . Last year the Government had rejected the incinerator plan, but Veolia had vowed to fight on before last week’s news. Here environmental campaigner and leading PAIN protester Shlomo Dowen writes about the experience:

Eight years ago, while attending the December 2004 Mansfield East Area Assembly meeting, I learnt of plans for a waste incinerator to be built at Crown Farm, Forest Town.

As a community we were concerned as we had not been consulted and because incineration was associated with health problems.

Our response was to ask questions, and when we were not satisfied with the answers we began our campaign against the incinerator.

By May 2005 Mansfield District Councillors were persuaded to withdraw the land from sale for the purpose of an incinerator.

This led to the proposed site being moved up the road to the former Rufford Colliery in Rainworth and the campaign shifting from Mansfield Against Incineration (MAIN) to People Against Incineration (PAIN).

I feel privileged to have been part of these communities rising up to the challenge, organising to ensure our views were heard and learning as much as possible.

We managed to stop two incinerators, and we made something positive out of the experience.

We used the campaign as an opportunity to come together, and together we moved from simply being concerned about health and amenity to appreciating the wider issues, from the importance of protecting habitat for Woodlark and Nightjar to the ways that incineration can harm recycling and adversely affect climate change.

I am very grateful to all of those people and organisations who helped out, and it has made me appreciate the importance of the local newspaper as a means of raising public awareness and being heard.

In the early days we received support from our neighbours in Nottingham, and by April 2008 we were in a position to turn around and work with Nottingham campaigners and others to establish a national organisation known as the United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) to support campaigners for more sustainable waste management. I became the National Co-ordinator of UKWIN, ensuring others benefit from our experience.

Also, as a result of the support provided by Nottinghamshire Widllife Trust at the public inquiry into the Rainworth incinerator, I decided to help establish a Forest Town Nature Conservation Group and become part of the Mansfield and Ashfield Local Widlife Group.

I hope that the former Rufford Colliery site is restored to heathland and woodland for the benefit of the birds, and that communities no longer have to face the prospect of an unnecessary and hugely expensive incinerator on their doorstep.