Category Archives: News

Open letter to the Environment Minister

An Open letter to Mark H Durkan,  Minister for the Environment

Thursday 7th November 2013

Zero Waste NW welcomes the recent withdrawal of the proposed Planning Bill for NI by Minister of the Environment Mark H Durkan because of planning and human rights concerns.

To give further time for consideration of the environmental and human rights issues around waste management, we ask the minister to postpone publication of the revised NI Waste Management Strategy ‘Delivering Resource Efficiency’.

People in the NW of Northern Ireland have twice in recent decades made clear their opposition to the incineration of waste. Instead they have been actively involved in separating and recycling and there are probably few places in the world where the citizens have occupied recycling depots which were threatened with closure! However, when the draft Waste Management Strategy ‘Delivering Resource Efficiency’ was open for consultation from 26 Oct 2012 to 18 Jan 2013, most people in the NW were unaware that waste was a major planning and human rights issue.

It was only in January 2013 that the DOE notified the public about planning permission for an Energy from Waste facility (gasification plant) in Strathfoyle, outside Derry and then, seriously concerned about the environmental and human health impact of such a facility, a group of citizens formed Zero Waste NW and started researching waste management models.

We now ask Minister Durkan to consider these points:

  • Energy from Waste as proposed in ‘Delivering Resource Efficiency’, is at the bottom of the Waste Framework Directive hierarchy (EU 2008).
  • Investing £500 million and signing a 25 year contract for the plant creates a market for waste and undermines targets for recycling and waste prevention which are at the top of the hierarchy.
  • NW Region Waste Management Group statistics indicate that the proposed Energy from Waste plant has a capacity greater than the waste produced in their seven council areas and they are proposing transporting waste in from other areas. This contravenes the Proximity Principle (‘treating or disposing of waste as close as possible to the point of generation to minimize the environmental impact’); increases carbon emissions from road (and possibly shipping) transport and presents the scenario of the NW becoming the dumping ground of NI.
  • £500 million to create 40 jobs is not cost effective. Zero Waste systems create at least ten times more jobs than current waste management systems.
  • Energy recovery from waste is not cost effective. ‘Incineration is an inefficient way to produce energy: energy recovery from waste incineration is lower than energy savings derived from waste recycling. For most of the materials that compose waste, recycling saves more energy than is generated by incinerating mixed solid waste in an incineration facility’ (Morris 1996 and 2008; EPA 2012 quoted in Incineration overcapacity and waste shipping in Europe:the end of the Proximity Principle?).

Zero Waste NW is seriously concerned about the environmental and human health impacts of the proposed energy from waste plant. A 2009 FOE (Friends of the Earth) report states that there are considerable uncertainties about these plants and that much of the data comes from the individual companies – ‘it is often unclear what emissions will be involved, and what sort of ash or other residue will be produced’.
Friends of the Earth (for further information see appendix)

In 2011 when the DOE made the decision to carry out a ‘recast plus’ of the 2006 Waste Management Strategy rather than a ‘fundamental review … along the lines of so-called zero waste strategies’, there was little public awareness of the issues involved. Now that we citizens are rapidly informing ourselves, we want to be involved in the decision making processes for designing community led separation and resource recovery systems.

Zero Waste NW asks Minister Durkan to meet with us and with experts already managing Zero Waste systems in Wales and Scotland. We are confident that Northern Ireland can work towards and achieve Zero Waste, thereby ending the burying and burning of resources, decreasing carbon emissions and creating sustainable jobs.

‘If you are not for zero waste, how much waste are you for?’  Zero Waste Alliance Europe


  1. Under EU legislation, energy from waste is classified as co-incineration and regulated in the same way as other types of incineration:
      • Co-incineration plant: any stationary or mobile plant whose main purpose is the generation of energy or production of material products and:
      • which uses wastes as a regular or additional fuel;
      • or in which waste is thermally treated for the purpose of disposal‘.
        Directive 2000/76/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 December 2000 on the incineration of waste.
  2. The 2008 Report of the British Society for Ecological Medicine highlights ‘the very high release of dioxins that arise during start-up and shut-down of incinerators….Of equal concern is the likelihood that these dangerously high emissions will not be detected by present monitoring systems for dioxins’.
  3. The World Health Organisation factsheet ‘Dioxins and their effects on human health states –Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer. Prevention or reduction of human exposure is best done via source-directed measures ie. strict control of industrial processes to reduce formation of dioxins as much as possible.
  4. The Stockholm Convention for the elimination of dioxins (where possible) is incorporated into European Law. Its regulations require that ‘priority consideration’ should be given to processes which do not generate persistent organic pollutants including dioxins. HMSO, The Persistent Organic Pollutants Regulations 2007 Statutory Instrument 2007 No 3106

The scariest thing in town

On Halloween night 2013 the  the scariest thing on the streets of Derry was the threat of a Gasification-Incinerator.

We pushed it around the streets, handed out leaflets and collected lots of signatures on the petition against the incinerator.   Above are some photographs.

Incineration No – Zero Waste Yes

Mal Williams from Zero Waste Wales, speaking via an internet video link at the Zero Waste NW public meeting in the City Hotel on Thursday 19th September, said: ‘waste is a mistake’.

He went on to talk about the Museum of Bad Design in Capannori, Italy.  It gives awards to products designed to be thrown out after one or two uses. Not only is this wasteful of time, energy and resources but it has resulted in a worldwide problem with landfill sites emitting methane gases and more plastic than plankton in the oceans.

Mal has been involving communities in Wales in setting up simple systems for doorstep sorting and collecting of resources.   He gave an example of  the village of St Arvans in South East Wales, where with minimum funding it increased its diversion from landfill rate from 35% to 67% in one month!  This is good news for councils facing massive fines under EU landfill directives and a possible alternative to the £500 million MBT and Gasification project proposed by Derry City Council and the other six councils making up the NW Region Waste Management Group.

Paul Connett a professor of Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology, also speaking via an internet video link from New York, called the proposed 25 year contract  for the incinerator at Strathfoyle: “preposterous”.   He talked at length about incineration produces nano-particles of bio-accumulative toxins.  He concluded by offering to come to Derry to debate the merits of gasification-incineration compared to a Zero Waste approach,  with any engineer prepared to speak in favour of the process.

Councillor Shaun Gallagher and Mark H Durkan, NI Minister of the Environment, were among those attending the meeting. Minister Durkan said afterwards that, although planning permission had been given for the gasification-incinerator,  neither the permit to operate nor the contract have yet been signed.   He said: “This will land on my desk and I am open to all sides of the argument”.

Eamon O’Donnell from Enagh Youth Forum said his concerns are for the health of the young people living in Maydown and Strathfoyle.  Paddy Casey, UNITE’s convenor in D.C.C spoke about the 4Rs project in Pennyburn which takes furniture, electrical goods and bicycles from the recycling depot, trains young people in their repair and then sells the quality items to the public.

Mary Mc Guiggan ended the meeting by leading a rousing rendition of The Derry Air with new lyrics for the occasion – 
”No Incineration. It’s Zero Waste for me!”  [Full lyrics below the video]

Below is a video of the  complete meeting.

It runs for 80 minutes.  Some shorter “highlights”  will be available in a few days when our video editing team have been put to work on it.


Below are the complete lyrics of Derry Air –  (You know the tune!)

Derry Air

Oh, Derryair, the people, they are calling
From glen to glen and down the mountain-side.
“We want clean air and no incineration
T’is you, t’is you must go and we must bide.
Don’t come ye back to spoil our precious meadows
Nor when our valley’s hushed and white with snow.
For we’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow,
Oh, Derryair, Oh, Derryair, we love you so.”

If you come here, our flowers they will be dying
And we’ll be dead and dead we sure will be.
For you won’t care what place I will be lying,
An Ave you will hardly say for me.
And I shall hear though soft you tread above me.
Your toxic waste, you hope you’ll hide from me!!!
Yet you will bend and tell me that you love me.


First Public Meeting

No to Incineration, Yes to Zero Waste

Date:  Thursday 19th September 2013

Time: 7:30

Place: City Hotel, Derry

Zero Waste North West invite you to our first public meeting.  It will include speakers from the local campaign against the incinerator at Strathfoyle and international speakers who can put our campaign in context.

The meeting will be chaired by Mary McGuiggan, will  have information about the campaign and how you can help and will include input from:

  • Dr. Paul Connett,  a graduate of Cambridge University with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Dartmouth College.  In 2006, he retired from his full professorship in chemistry at St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY, where he taught environmental chemistry and toxicology for 23 years.
    He has given public presentations on waste management  throughout the USA and in 50 other countries.  Ralph Nader said of Paul Connett, “He is the only person I know who can make waste interesting.”
  •  Mal Williams, executive director of Zero Waste Wales.  Mal has advised the Welsh government which itself adopted a zero waste strategy in 2010.  Mal has an extensive knowledge of current waste management systems and provides insights on how to drive change and move towards a circular economy with “Zero Waste”.

Help Publicise the Meeting

You can download a Flier, A5-Flier and an A4-Poster for the meeting. Please print them out and distribute around your friends, work colleagues  and neighbours.  Put one up in any public place you can.

Video Samples of Speakers

A small sample of the sort of things that  Mal Williams, of Zero Waste Wales will have to say:

A small sample of the sort of things that  Prof. Connett will have to say:

Watch this space for more details of the meeting! 


Fund Raising Gig

Upstairs at Sandino’s Bar, Water Street Derry.

Wednesday 18th September from 9:00 pm

“Rock Against Incineration”

“Rock Against Gasification”

Rock against Incineration!.  Rock against Gasification!

Rock against Incineration!. Rock against Gasification!

Help promote the gig:

Down load the poster:  A3,  A4,  A5


Great Line-Up:

      • Techno Peasant,
      • John Leighton,
      • Johanna Fegan,
      • Abby Olivera,
      • Conor McAteer,
      • Frank Rafferty,
      • Conor Kelly .
      • and more

All funds raised will go to the Zero Waste North West campaign against incineration and for Zero Waste.

Film: Story of Stuff (Waterloo Place)

As part of Zero Waste Week Zero Waste North West are showing the 20 minute documentary:

‘The Story of Stuff’

Sat 7th Sept 2013 12-4pm

The Big Screen, Waterloo Place, Derry

It will be on a continuing roll, showing every twenty minutes.  So get there any time between 12:00 and 3:30 and you should see the whole film.

If you didn’t make it to Waterloo Place the film is available online via our Zero Waste Resources section, and below:

The Story of Stuff

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world


Dancing for a Clean Environment

As a celebration of our world and to highlight the principles of the zero waste campaign,  Zero Waste NW invite you to join in the

Waves of Tory : dancing for a clean environment and against incineration.

Sunday 8th September 2013 at 2:00 pm

The Playtrail, Racecourse Rd, Derry

Come along with your family, learn the simple dance steps and the new lyrics to the Derry Air, have fun and be part of the Zero Waste Movement.

This is part of  Zero Waste Week 2nd – 8th September 2013

‘If you are not for ‘zero waste’ then how much waste are you for?’

Zero Waste North West regard all items as resources which can be made use of in practical and creative ways. It makes no sense to discard useful resources in landfill or to destroy them in incinerators; even less sense when the effects of dumping and burning seriously damage our environment.


Lobbying the Environmental Services Committee

On Thursday 6th June members of Zero Waste North West(ZWNW) gathered outside the Guildhall before the Derry City Council Environmental Services committee, protesting against the NWRWM proposed waste incinerator at Strathfoyle.

We lobbied councillors and collected signatures on our petition and in some cases did both at the same time!

The Word on the Streets …

… is Say “No” AGAIN!

Gasification = Incineration. Say "No" again. Sign the online petition.

Gasification = Incineration. Say “No” again. Sign the online petition.


Sign the Petition against the Derry Incinerator.

Say “No” again. Sign the online petition.

Say "No" again. Sign the online petition against Derry Gasification Incinerator.

Say “No” again. Sign the online petition.

Gassification = Incineration: Say "NO" again!

Gassification = Incineration: Say “NO” again!

Derry Air - Say no to Gasification.

A green sign of the times.


“Never doubt that a small group  of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world – indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”  Margret Mead