ALL Hell has understandably broken loose over a proposed energy centre at the Keypoint Employment Site off the A420.

More than 200 people attended a public meeting in Stratton St Margaret to oppose the idea floated by a company called Rolton Kilbride.

The firm says it has in mind a plant which will bake non-recyclable rubbish at extreme temperatures, producing enough steam to generate power for more than 20,000 homes.

Local people say it’s a garbage incinerator and fear for the local environment and their own health.

If Rolton Kilbride believes this characterisation is unfair and residents are wrong to be alarmed, I’d be only too happy to help them put the truth across and reassure everybody.

My first suggestion is that it explains how and why baking garbage is different from incinerating garbage. Perhaps it might use some sort of analogy involving cakes. When we bake a cake, we put the mixture in the oven and apply heat to it. We are left with something which differs from the mixture we put in but still retains all the substances associated with delicious cakiness.

If we simply chucked the cake mixture on a fire, however, we’d end up with something resembling a cinder or a heap of ash. All that delicious cakiness would have vanished into the air in the form of smoke and vapour.

Therefore, when we hear about baking rubbish it’s reasonable to assume that at little or none of the extremely un-delicious rubbishiness will find its way into the air.

Otherwise it’s incineration.

On a related note, the company might also want to explain why its proposal includes a 180ft chimney. Such a height is surely overkill if nothing more sinister than a spot of high-temperature baking is on the cards.

Perhaps the designers just like the look of chimneys.

Another tactic the company should consider is a legally binding pledge to compensate anybody in a 10-mile radius for health issues that might be traced back to substances emitted by the energy centre. About ten grand per person per day for so much as a bit of a headache should do the job.

Obviously, nobody will ever successfully claim so much as a penny because there are absolutely no health issues for anybody to worry about.

After all, it’s just a spot of baking.

The absolute best way of reassuring the community, though, would be one I’ve suggested in similar circumstances before.

Every executive who stands to make money from the project should agree to have a miniaturised version of the energy centre put up in their back garden. I reckon each one would only cost a few grand and the chimneys would only need to be about the height of a child’s bedroom window.

The miniature ones should then be allowed to run at full tilt for a few months, night and day, with their chimneys emitting the same substances the full-sized version would.

Then the firm could say to the people of Swindon: “If these plants are safe enough to near us and our children, they’re safe enough to be near you and yours.”

And everything would be fine.


SWIMMERS’ anger at the closure of the smaller pool at the Health Hydro continues.

More than 600 people have so far signed a petition condemning the decision, which was taken partly on financial grounds by the private company brought in to run our leisure facilities.

I’m still waiting to hear any public pronouncements by the councillors who okayed the deal, though – and who led us to believe that situations such as this would be highly unlikely.

Perhaps they’re all too busy doing something more important.

Safeguarding libraries, say.