Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All winners and losers - South London Waste Plan

Katherine Street, Croydon - 30.01.12


As I cycled towards the town hall I noticed a police van just yards from the entrance to the building. Was the van stationed there for the protesters outside the town hall? What are the authorities expecting us to do?

Since the handcuff protest, the Council have installed a new turnstile system by the Reception desk. Surely this can't be a reaction to the handcuff protest?

The lobby area was already brimming full of members of the public, eager to get their points across and observe democracy in action!?! There were supporters from Save The David Lean Cinema, Save Upper Norwood Library and of course the Stop the Incinerator campaign.

As usual I handed in my placards at Reception, upon entering the building. However, this time a very tall broad shouldered man was there to meet me at the new turnstile, flanked by security. He asked me if I had any handcuffs in my bag? I didn't have any handcuffs in my pannier but I explored his reason for asking. He then advised me that if I attended to do anything to disrupt the meeting I would be arrested. I was taken aback. I pointed out that I wasn't planning on disrupting the meeting and that I had a right to peaceful non violent protest.

The exchange continued for a little while longer, during which I established he was Head of Security at the Council, and that he was absent on the evening of the handcuff protest. He made it absolutely clear to me that I would be arrested if I attempted anything, and upon request produced several pages of relevant public order law from his pocket. In addition, he pointed out I would have been arrested if he was in the building at the handcuff protest.

After giving him assurances that I wouldn't disrupt the meeting I was allowed in.

The meeting was fairly predictable, Labour councillors making speeches opposing the South London Waste Plan and incineration; Tories pointing out Labour's hypocrisy and also sidestepping every question asked by Green Party members from the public gallery.

A summary:

Conservatives

WON the all important vote 35 - 33 to adopt the South London Waste Plan
LOST effectively their Waddon seats and probably control of the Council at the next local elections in 2014. There is no doubt Labour will remind voters constantly how promises made by the Tory councillors Hoar, Harris and Hilley in that ward were broken.

Labour

WON the opportunity for the public to see the Waddon councillors ignominy when asked to raise their hands to vote for the South London Waste Plan. The show of hands was a specific request by Labour leader Councillor Newman. Labour can also look forward to winning Waddon, and if all other things are equal - the Council. Privately, they know their return to power is that much nearer after last night.
LOST all credibility because, as the Tories rightly pointed out, they had only got involved in the process at the eleventh hour when they realised votes could be won. Also accusations of hypocrisy were manifold, including Labour councillors in Merton voting for the Plan and Malcolm Wicks MP actually forcing through an incinerator in Belverdere when Energy Minister - despite near unanimous local opposition.

Lib Dems
Nowhere. None present.


Green Party

WON the praise of the Conservatives on a couple of occasions in the debate for at least attending the Inspectors Public Hearing, something Labour failed to do.
LOST the vote, although our campaign and petition of 900 signatures opposing the South London Waste Plan (submitted by Gordon Ross) shows we are the third party in Croydon.

Me, personally

WON, in that the handcuff protest raised the profile of the issue and the lack of transparency.
LOST any anonymity I have/had. Suddenly, I am a marked man! To be expected I guess. However, I also felt the Mayor deliberately chose to disrupt my supplementary question very early on for 'time', thus causing me to miss crucial lines - something he didn't do to others.

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There have always been two parts to this incinerator saga. The South London Waste Plan is now adopted in Croydon. The focus of attention is now the planning application itself.















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Monday, January 30, 2012

Waddon councillors hide behind semantics



One of the most appalling parts of this incinerator saga, and there are many to choose from, is the continued pretence by the Tory councillors that the planned waste plant is not an incinerator. They continue to describe it as an 'energy from waste' facility. This despite Anjum Amin from Environment Agency explaining they will be issuing a permit for an incinerator at the recent Beddington meeting.

Our recent press release, which received coverage in both local papers:

http://croydon.greenparty.org.uk/localsites/croydon/News/2012_12_Incinerator-A-broken-Conservative-pledge.html

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beddington residents speak out against incinerator



Representatives from Viridor, including their Communications Manager, Victor Perez-Mares, gave a presentation to the Beddington residents on the 18th January.

The community in Beddington have been treated appallingly by the authorities. For decades promises and pledges have been broken. This video, recorded on my mobile phone, doesn't really illustrate enough how vociferous the residents were at the meeting regarding these latest plans.

Cr7 Green's blog explains the situation in his own inimitable way here.

Green GLA candidate Gordon Ross wrote a piece for the local Guardian's Xtra column, discussing his thoughts on the meeting:

Croydon Xtra: Proposed Beddington Incinerator.

Beddington Lane on the Sutton/Croydon border is the location for a proposed waste incinerator by the company Viridor, which if built will cost the taxpayer £200 million to build, and a further £700 million to operate over 25 years.

The South London Waste Plan which has allowed this proposed incinerator is flawed, and was skewed towards incineration from the start. The Councils involved have simply gone for the quickest easiest way to get rid of the waste, which is also the most profitable route for the waste companies, it is far from the best option for people’s health and the environment.

The public consultation never really allowed alternatives, such as waste reduction, increased re-use and recycling, composting to be discussed, nor did it allow discussion of the health and environmental impact of incineration. These important issues should be part of the waste plan, but they are not.

Viridor and the Councils call the incinerator “an energy from waste facility”, but burning waste is a very dirty and inefficient way to generate electricity, not to mention a waste of resources that should be recycled instead. The £200 million cost of building this facility would have been better spent on waste reduction, re-use, recycling, composting and anaerobic digestion facilities, which have much less impact on the environment and people’s health.

Burning rubbish produces toxic ash, carbon dioxide (the green house gas), dioxins and over 200 other toxic chemicals. Composting and other biological processes are harmless in comparison.

On Wednesday 18th January Beddington residents met with representative of Viridor, the waste company, Council officials, to find out about the proposal.

The mood of the residents was one of frustration and anger, that their problems with pollution, noise and heavy lorries from existing waste sites on Beddington Lane still haven’t been resolved, and now they are told they are to get even more lorries, noise and pollution from a vast new incinerator. The incinerator will have to be supplied by lorries transporting the 375,000 tonnes of rubbish a year they plan to burn. The noise and pollution from these lorries is an unacceptable burden to expect the people of Beddington to put up with. Enough is enough! The council needs to address the real problems facing the residents, not heap more rubbish onto their community.

I doubt very much that Beddington would have been chosen as the site for an incinerator if it had lots of well-off residents, who could afford expensive lawyers to mount a legal challenge to this plan.

Gordon Ross

Sutton & Croydon Green Party

GLA constituency candidate for Sutton & Croydon




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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Front page coverage: MONEY TO BURN

One would have probably assumed that burning South London's waste in Kent would be more preferable to local councillors than Beddington Lane (borders of Sutton and Croydon). WRONG; money Money MONEY is more important than a) nimbyism and b) recycling.

Instead, what our councillors have ensured is that in 15/20 years time when we as a society will have no choice but to reuse, recycle and compost all our waste, because of increased demand of raw materials from emerging economies, we will end up sending our recyclables to the local, all polluting, incinerator OR import waste from elsewhere to feed the beast.

Of course, the correct solution is not to incinerate anywhere - as my comment states (link to online version).

Just to clarify, they could have taken the ultra attractive option of basking in the glory of sending all of South London's waste outside of South London for another county to manage BUT they choose not to. I am incredulous that they have taken this decision.


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Friday, January 13, 2012

Jim Duffy's excellent letter in the paper



Dear Sir

Sutton Council's environmental credentials will go up in smoke if it gives the go-ahead to the proposed Beddington incinerator.
It's ironic that Viridor will be testing a means of reducing particulates from its predicted increased lorry movements in Beddington (1) while the proposed incinerator itself will blast out billions of particulates, linked to a wide range of illnesses from asthma to cancer (2). Although from 2016 it will be illegal to emit PB15 and larger particles, it is the smaller ones down in size to PM5 which more easily enter the blood system through our lungs and are considered dangerous.
Astonishingly the South London Waste Plan also gives permission for Viridor to burn radioactive and toxic waste (3). Viridor has said this clause was 'accidentally' added after publication (4) but Sutton's Executive did not deny it at its meeting on 12th December. One 'plume map' commissioned by Croydon Green Party shows much of the pollution from particulates, dioxins and low-level radiation will disperse to areas as far as Carshalton Beeches, Wallington, Morden and even Beckenham and Dulwich (5).
The planned 'Energy from Waste' incinerator, designed to produce electricity, requires large volumes of paper and wood as well as plastics to keep the turbines spinning. But Friends of the Earth say these materials should be recycled not burnt (6), a view endorsed in a recent EU directive on resource management (8).
Regarding the local economy, a point raised by Councillor Hall to support the incinerator, recycling produces ten times more jobs per tonne of waste than incineration. He might also take note of twelve current campaigns against incinerators run by Lib-Dem groups across the UK (7).
The Government is right to encourage councils to manage our waste better and move away from landfill but Sutton should consider adopting a less polluting approach alongside improved recycling, including small-scale 'anaerobic digesters'. These produce electricity from our food waste and are approved by UK environmental groups (6). They are already successfully used in Belgium helping to clean up old landfill sites.
Hackbridge and Beddington people may wish to air their concerns at two council-led meetings discussing the incinerator: Hackbridge Primary School at 7pm on Thursday 12th January and at Beddington Park Primary School at 7.30pm on Wednesday January 18th.
Jim Duffy

Notes:
1. Sutton Guardian report on pollution prevention measures for waste lorries:
2. The Health Effects of Waste Incinerators, British Society for Ecological Medicine:
3. "Policy WP2 states that planning permission for additional facilities for other waste streams including construction, demolition and excavation waste, hazardous waste, agricultural waste, radioactive waste and waste water will be permitted."
Paragraph 4.60a of the South London Waste Plan Proposed Submission 2011
(My highlights in yellow of contentious wastes)
4. Viridor meeting with Beddington Farmlands committee, 12th December 2011.
5. Pollution Rose for 100 ft incinerator stack at Beddington:
6. Friends of the Earth press release stating Energy from Waste 'green' claims are a myth:
7. Twelve Lib-Dem anti-incinerator campaigns found in a google search. Incineration is against national Lib-Dem policy.
Spelthorne, Surrey
St Albans, Herts
Marston Vale, Bedford
Tewksbury, Glos
Rookery Pit, Nottingham
Cross Green, Leeds
Avonmouth, Bristol
Costessey, Norfolk
Kings Lynn, Norfolk
Newquay, Cornwall
Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales
Suffolk County
8. Extracts from new European Commission guidelines on resource management:
The EC report, "Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe" was published on 20th September 2011, the day the second stage of the South London Waste Plan consultation ended, so unfortunately could not be considered in that process: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/resource_efficiency/pdf/com2011_571.pdf
A key goal, under 'Milestones by 2020' is: "Energy recovery is limited to non recyclable materials". The Commission makes a strong case for preserving materials such as paper and wood for re-use and recycling that otherwise (in the SLWP scenario) would go to feedstock for incineration.
I have reproduced the key paragraphs from the report below in italics with some points highlighted in yellow:
3.2. Turning waste into a resource
Each year in the European Union we throw away 2.7 billion tonnes of waste, 98 million

tonnes of which is hazardous. On average only 40% of our solid waste is re-used or recycled,
the rest going to landfill or incineration. Overall waste generation is stable in the EU,
however, generation of some waste streams like construction and demolition waste, to sewage
sludge and marine litter is still increasing. Waste electrical and electronic equipment alone is
expected to increase by roughly 11% between 2008 and 2014.

In some Member States more than 80% of waste is recycled, indicating the possibilities of
using waste as one of the EU’s key resources. Improving waste management makes better use
of resources and can open up new markets and jobs, as well as encourage less dependence on
imports of raw materials and lower impacts on the environment.

If waste is to become a resource to be fed back into the economy as a raw material, then much
higher priority needs to be given to re-use and recycling. A combination of policies would
help create a full recycling economy, such as product design integrating a life-cycle approach,
better cooperation along all market actors along the value chain, better collection processes,
appropriate regulatory framework, incentives for waste prevention and recycling, as well as
public investments in modern facilities for waste treatment and high quality recycling.

Milestone: By 2020, waste is managed as a resource. Waste generated per capita is in
absolute decline. Recycling and re-use of waste are economically attractive options for
public and private actors due to widespread separate collection and the development of
functional markets for secondary raw materials. More materials, including materials
having a significant impact on the environment and critical raw materials, are recycled.
Waste legislation is fully implemented. Illegal shipments of waste have been eradicated.
Energy recovery is limited to non recyclable materials, landfilling is virtually eliminated
and high quality recycling is ensured.

The Commission will:
• Stimulate the secondary materials market and demand for recycled materials through
economic incentives and developing end-of-waste criteria (in 2013/2014);
• Review existing prevention, re-use, recycling, recovery and landfill diversion targets
to move towards an economy based on re-use and recycling, with residual waste
close to zero (in 2014);
• Assess the introduction of minimum recycled material rates, durability and reusability
criteria and extensions of producer responsibility for key products (in
2012);
• Assess areas where legislation on the various waste streams could be aligned to
improve coherence (in 2013/2014);
• Continue working within the EU and with international partners to eradicate illegal
waste shipments with a special focus on hazardous waste;
• Ensure that public funding from the EU budget gives priority to activities higher up
the waste hierarchy as defined in the Waste Framework Directive (e.g. priority to
recycling plants over waste disposal
) (in 2012/2013);
• Facilitate the exchange of best practice on collection and treatment of waste among
Member States and develop measures to combat more effectively breaches of EU
waste rules (in 2013/2014).

Member States should:
• ensure full implementation of the EU waste acquis including minimum targets
through their national waste prevention and management strategies (continuous).



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FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR