Protect Portland – No to the Waste Incinerator!

A beautiful island

The Isle of Portland is a strange and magical place. I have explored with friends the rocky shoreline and seen waves crashing over Pulpit Rock. I have read the names carved into the time-worn gravestones above Church Ope Cove. I have gazed down at the dramatic sweeping line of Chesil Beach from a windswept viewing point high above the sea.

I visit the island as a walker, with friends who watch out for the seabirds above the waves. Once, from a clifftop path, we saw a Peregrine falcon dive past, gone in a second, remembered now these dark days.

I have lingered in the narrow streets of Fortuneswell and driven through quiet villages on my way to Portland Bill.

“A blot on the landscape”

I was taken aback, therefore, to learn of a plan to build a Waste Incinerator on this beautiful island which would dominate the skyline and poison the air of many who live there.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax spoke against the proposals in the Commons, describing them as creating “a blot on the landscape”. In the same letter to Dorset Planning Committee, he said:

“Finally, I think it’s pertinent to point out that Portland suffers from deprivation and poverty and residents often feel “dumped upon”. While I can see the ERF (Energy Recovery Facility) will provide energy to the national grid, and help the port provide power to visiting cruise ships, I cannot see a solid, long-term benefit for islanders”. (1)

If built, this incinerator will endanger the ecology of the uniquely beautiful Jurassic Coast.

Stop Portland Waste Incinerator

At the December 2020 Branch Meeting of the Swanage & Rural Labour Party, held through the magic of Zoom, Giovanna Lewis, a Portland Labour Councillor and member of Extinction Rebellion, updated members on the campaign to stop the construction of the Incinerator.

Giovanna explained how the plan originated with the formation of Powerfuel Portland Ltd in 2019. The two individuals who founded the company are not local to the island.

Importing waste and polluting the air

The company, Giovanna said, was founded to set up a huge Waste Incinerator providing “renewable energy” for cruise ships docking at Portland. The site for the proposed incinerator is a brown field one, yet its chimney will be only too visible, and the noxious particulates it emits in smoke will spread out in a circle with a 10 km radius.

The Dorset Council Area creates 40,000 tonnes of waste per annum. The Powerfuel Plant will need 200,000 tonnes of waste per annum to function efficiently, thereby providing power to the cruise ships.

As Giovanna pointed out, this would mean Dorset would have to import waste. The material burned is called RDF, or Refuse Derived Fuel, the residue left after the original waste material has been processed at a Mechanical Biological Treatment Plant – located in Dorset at Canford.

As one member succinctly pointed out, “waste will be imported from where we know not, and waste which we know not”.

A well led campaign

The lead campaigner, Lucy Grieve, Giovanna said, deserves praise for her hard work and smart thinking.

7,000 people have signed a petition against the Waste Incinerator. Richard Drax formally presented the petition to Parliament on the 5 December 2020.

He said: “I hand in a petition with nearly 7,000 signatures from those who wish to stop an incinerator plant being built on the beautiful island of Portland in my constituency. Those who want to build it call it an energy recovery facility. Thousands of people disagree with that interpretation and say that it is a waste incinerator, and they do not want it on their island”. (1)

Specialist Consultants have provided expert commentary on the Company’s Planning Application. £25,000 was raised towards the campaign by donations. 3,000 letters of objection were received by Dorset Council.

The scheme is not expected to go to the Dorset Strategic Planning Committee for several months.

Support the campaign

Full details about the campaign and the ill-founded proposals are to be found on the website

Chris Bradey 


(1) Dorset Echo, 22 November 2020


The text of the petition presented was as follows:

The petition of residents of the constituency of South Dorset

Declares that the proposal to build a waste incinerator on Portland should not go ahead and that the Government should review its support for incinerators more generally; notes that almost 7,000 people have signed a corresponding online petition to stop the waste incinerator; further declares that South Dorset is a beautiful part of the world and that it should remain a healthy place for our children, grandchildren and ourselves; further that research has shown that a waste incinerator will cause the release of tiny dangerous particles into the air; further that a waste incinerator will cause a small increase in health risks for children; further that it will bring more lorries thundering along already busy roads; further that there is a possible need for the incinerator to be “fed” in the future by waste imported from outside the UK; further that it will create a big, unsightly blot on our beautiful landscape and coast; further that it will discourage recycling; and further that it will not create many jobs for local residents.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to rethink its support for incinerators and look towards a greener, circular economy.

And the petitioners remain, etc.

As for Note 1