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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Incinerator protest dominates election
Protesters have campaigned against the planned incinerator for two years
Opponents of plans for a waste incinerator in south Wales have been interrogating candidates in the Welsh Assembly's first by-election.

At a special hustings meeting on Thursday, candidates in the Swansea East by-election all expressed their objection to the scheme, but were divided over how to stop it going ahead.

Swansea East by-election candidates
Labour - Val Lloyd
Conservative - Gerald Rowbottom
Liberal Democrat - Rob Speht
Plaid Cymru - John Ball
UKIP - Tim Jenkins
Green Party - Martyn Shrewsbury
Welsh Socialist Alliance - Alan Thomson

Residents have been campaigning against the proposals for the incinerator in Crymlyn Burrows near Swansea, for two years.

They claim the plans to burn domestic waste at the plant will release cancer-causing chemicals into the air.

Labour-controlled Neath and Port Talbot Council has already declared its support for the scheme and Labour candidate Val Lloyd faced some tough questioning.

But at the meeting in St Thomas Church Hall in Swansea, she insisted the campaign had to be practical and focus on pressing the Environment Agency not to allow the plant to operate.

Labour Candidate Val Lloyd
Val Lloyd faced tough questioning

Ms Lloyd said: "My judgement for this is that the next few crucial weeks we should be directing all our campaigning energies at the Environment Agency that is where the decision now lays."

Eight candidates have been nominated to fight it out in the Swansea East poll which follows the death of Val Feld AM in July.

The four main parties are contesting the constituency, which is usually considered safe seat for Labour, on 27 September.

However, barely more than one-in-three voted at the last assembly election and Labour's big worry is that low turnout could threaten its grip on the seat.

Other parties also fielding candidates are the Greens, Welsh Socialist Alliance, UK Independence and the New Millennium Bean Party.

Both Labour and the Conservatives launched their campaigns for the seat on Wednesday.

The Liberal Democrats unveiled their campaign last week, and Plaid Cymru followed suit on Friday.

Ms Feld won the last election ahead of Plaid Cymru with 45% of the vote on a turn-out of just 36% from the 57,766-strong electorate.

Grievous blow

Aged 53, she died from cancer in July 2001 after earlier stepping down from her role as chair of the influential economic development committee.

Previously, she was director of the Equal Opportunities Commission in Wales.

Born in Bangor, north Wales, in 1947 she worked as a journalist in London and as a housing advice working in Lancashire.

She went on to become the founder and first director of housing charity Shelter Cymru, based in Swansea, and has been involved with many other voluntary organisations.

BBC Wales's Simon Morris reports
"Opponents to the incinerator laid bare their feelings"
See also:

18 Jul 01 | Wales
Assembly Member Val Feld dies
30 Aug 01 | Wales
Minister rules out plans recall
10 May 99 | UK Politics
The new, female power-brokers
01 Jul 99 | UK Politics
Row over challenge for Davies' post
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