That uncertainty will be shared by many ordinary Islanders, whose understanding of the facility now to be built will be based on information that has often been sketchy, very technical or both.
We can all, however, grasp several key facts about the new plant with ease. In spite of its energy-generating capacities, it will be an incinerator in all but name. It will be vast, its highest point overtopping South Hill. It will also be the most costly capital project that the Island’s public sector has ever funded.
And the plant’s site on the reclaimed land at La Collette is another controversial issue. The residents of the Havre des Pas will now have to get used to the idea that they will have to take their turn as the recipients of chimney fumes that for many years blighted the Bellozanne area.
Cynics might also say that in future anyone arriving at St Helier by sea will be able to choose between focusing on La Collette chimney, the tower blocks at Le Squez or the mass of the new incinerator as they form their first impressions of the Island.
With such a battery of counter arguments at the disposal of those who oppose the incinerator plan – not to mention other arguments based on the feasibility and desirability of recycling initiatives – the final decision reached by Members might seem perverse. But there was another aspect of the debate that a majority clearly felt that they could not ignore. In essence, we have painted ourselves into a waste disposal corner and means for escaping this predicament are limited.
We are told that the present incinerator is on its last legs – no doubt because it should have been replaced long ago – and that the prospect of rubbish piling up with nowhere to go is as real as it is alarming. We are also told that because time is such an issue, the introduction of recycling that could limit the scale of any new incinerator is not a realistic option.
With all this in mind, the majority of Members who carried the day in favour of the new plant might well have concluded that, ultimately, it was a question not of what the Island wants but what it must have.