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Norwich Evening News - 27-03-06
Incinerator and birth defects are linked

Claims that living near an incinerator creates a higher risk of birth defects will be raised at City Hall this week.

Adrian Ramsay, leader of the council's Green group, will use evidence compiled by scientist Michael Ryan to challenge opposition parties to come out and oppose the controversial plans.

Shropshire-based Mr Ryan used figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Primary Care Trust data on birth defects to ascertain where the highest incidences were taking place.

His conclusions were that those families living near to incinerators had suffered disproportionately high levels of birth defects.

Mr Ryan's claims will be put at a full meeting of the city council this week. So far the members of the authority's Liberal Democrat administration, and Labour opposition group, have asked for more time and information before deciding their stance on proposals for an incinerator in Longwater Industrial Estate, Costessey.

One piece of evidence obtained by Mr Ryan showed that one in every 16 babies born in rural mid Devon in 2002, an area with an incinerator, had at least one defect.

This compared with fewer than one in 630 babies born in London's traffic-clogged Islington during the same year.

Mr Ryan said: “I'm appalled that birth defect data has been collected on government instruction since January 1964, yet nobody appears to have analysed it to identify avoidable environmental causes.

“It's as though teams of civil servants at ONS and the Department of Health have been asleep on the job for more than 40 years. It's a worse public health scandal than the Thalidomide one that led to the collection of birth defect data in the first place.”

Adrian Ramsay said: “Mr Ryan approached me with this research. There is a range of reasons to oppose these plans, and this would appear to be another one. We want the whole council to get behind an anti-incinerator campaign.”

Earlier this year, the Evening News reported how an investigation by the Health Protection Agency had not found any links between incinerators and ill health.

A spokeswoman for WRG said: “There is no conclusive proof of a link between health impacts and the use of Energy from Waste.

“Before a facility could be built at Longwater Industrial Estate it would need both planning permission and a permit from the Environment Agency, which will only be granted if the Agency believes the plant can be operated safely and within all regulatory limits. The limits for emissions were toughened at the end of 2005 and are now the strictest ever enforced in the UK.

     

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