‘People power’ key to the scrapping of Lanarkshire incinerator plans


Jubilant campaigners are celebrating the success of their protests to stop an incinerator being built in Lanarkshire.

Waste management giants Viridor announced this week that it was withdrawing interest in erecting the facility at Overwood Farm, south of Larkhall and Stonehouse.

And it was all down to the determination and fight from local protestors of the Dovedale Action Group who say “people power” was key in winning the battle which ran for more than a year.

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Their campaign received huge cross-party support from politicians across the region, who subsequently commended their success.

Leader of the action group and Stonehouse resident, John Young, told Lanarkshire Live: “It’s amazing that a wee village the size of ours can come together and defeat a multi-national company, not just to stop the incinerator here, but to bring a national review to potentially change policy too.

“That’s through ordinary individual people with nothing but commitment.”

John said it was “a massive relief” when he received the news that Viridor had thrown out its incinerator plans.

During the campaign, John wrote literally hundreds of letters opposing the move over the past 14 months, and he admits the issue took over his life at times.

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He added: “There’s a core working group we’ve had and all of those brought something to the party in different ways. The assistance we got all came together to make this happen.

“When I look back at when the application from Viridor first came in, my heart sank because I knew we had to go through every week of our lives trying to fight this.

“However, at that point I knew that even if we were going to lose, we should still fight this because it’s the right thing to do.”

Artist’s impression of proposed Overwood ERF

The group decided to not only campaign against the issue in a local context, but a national one too. And only a few months ago, the Dovesdale Action Group got the chance to speak about their work at an international level at COP26 in Glasgow.

When news broke of the campaign’s success yesterday, the group released a statement which read: “In 2010, we were told that it was a waste of time protesting against a planning application for an incinerator by Scotgen and that it was a foregone conclusion. We ultimately won that fight.

“In 2020, we were told the application by Viridor was certain to succeed and that there was no point in campaigning against it. We fought that proposal and we won.

“In 2021, we were told we could not persuade the Scottish Government to instigate a national review of incineration in Scotland.

“We campaigned and succeeded in getting a review and we are currently awaiting the outcome of the review to protect communities and our environment from the impact of emissions from incineration.

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“This campaign has only been successful due to the strength of ‘people power’, regardless of political allegiances and a combined effort to protect the things we hold dear as communities and individuals.

“We have shown what we can achieve if we stand up for what is right, not just here in South Lanarkshire but for communities across Scotland and indeed the UK, fighting to reduce the impact of emissions and improve our ability as a nation to better recycle , better package and ultimately reduce the impact of plastics in our waste.

“Although we celebrate today the fight in many regards is just beginning. We think there is a place for companies such as Viridor in the waste industry, but an industry that is truly clean, green and focused on reshaping the waste industry in harmony with the environment rather than to its detriment.

“We hope that with the recommendations of the review, we shall see new opportunities arise for the Scottish Government, regardless of whatever party leads it, to be a leader in influencing others to follow us on that new journey.

“When more information is available we will endeavor to keep all our supporters updated on developments.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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