A controversial plan to burn a variety of waste solvents at a UK Wiltshire cement works looked certain to go ahead last night after the Government ruled out holding a public inquiry into the trial. Lafarge wants to use recycled liquid fuels (RLFs) instead of coal at its Westbury cement works. A six-month trial is expected to be approved soon by the Environment Agency - but calls from local Liberal Democrats and Conservative frontbench MPs for a public inquiry into the plan before permission is granted were rebuffed by the Government.
Local campaigners had claimed burning the toxic RLFs would increase air pollution downwind of the former Blue Circle works on the edge of Westbury. Last year, pressure group The Air That We Breathe took their fight to stop Lafarge burning tyres as fuel all the way to the courts, but failed to stop a five-year trial. Environment Minister Elliot Morley said the consultation process, which involved health chiefs, pollution experts and the Environment Agency, was enough to assess the safety and suitability of the trial. Lafarge Cement UK Westbury Works manager John Collinson said: "Rejection of a call for a public inquiry should mean we can work towards running a successful trial using RLF and showing we can secure the environmental and commercial benefits enjoyed by the community and employees at cement works around the world where RLF is used."