Neil White: Powerful TV forced me to rethink on Derby's waste plant
A FEW years ago, I vowed that our family would cut back on its waste.
In fact, I wrote a feature for the Nottingham Post, my newspaper at the time, about the amount of garbage we threw away.
I even opened up my bin for a rigorous (and embarrassing) examination by the presenter of TV's No Waste Like Home, Penny Poyzer.
She pointed out how we could do our bit towards saving the planet by recycling much more.
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Penny outlined how we could use rainwater, have a compost bin and make sure our plastics and paper were saved.
She put me to shame by telling me how green her family was. She confessed they had even tried to recycle their personal waste!
I would certainly draw the line there but, since then, glass, paper, plastic and cans have been saved by us and collected by the council every couple of weeks.
However, the actor Jeremy Irons has persuaded me we need to do more.
Last week I watched Irons presenting an eye-opening documentary called Trashed, exploring the effects of reckless dumping of waste on people around the world.
From Yorkshire to the coast of the Lebanon, he demonstrated how dioxins were seeping into the air, land and water supply.
The examples he cited really made me sit up.
These included a giant tip on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, where rubbish was piled 40 metres high and, as it rotted, some slipped into the sea.
Consequently, countries as far away as Italy have complained how the pollution had reached their shores.
Then there was an area in the Pacific Ocean where there was a slick of rubbish the size of Texas.
Water currents have gathered huge amounts of plastic in this one spot, which has become a no-go area for wildlife.
And then I watched as Irons interviewed a farmer in Iceland whose livelihood has been wrecked by a nearby incinerator which had thrown dioxins into the air.
This gave me food for thought because it had been termed a "waste to energy" plant and seemed rather similar to the controversial "gasification" unit proposed for Derby.
As all Derbeians know, there has been a public campaign against the plant for years and it has led to our council getting into a right old muddle.
Embarrassment has been caused by it being forced to literally fight itself in court over planning decisions and the current city leader Paul Bayliss being cornered into backing a scheme against which he had previously protested.
Previously, I have been torn on the subject.
While recognising the passion of the protesters, I have not been convinced by their arguments.
But now I wonder what if their dire warnings are correct?
How can we be absolutely certain that the fall-out from these plants will not be dangerous?
Trashed demonstrated plausible alternatives and, if there is even a small risk to health, surely they should be explored.