Thursday, 29 July 2010

Biffa - Another proposed incinerator

Just before we launched this Blog some of us were informed by letter and shiny leaflet of the plan by Biffa to apply for planning permission to build an incinerator at the Old Skelton Grange Power Station to process 300,000 tonnes of rubbish. This huge facility differs from the proposed incinerator at Cross Green or Knostrop in three main ways
* This incinerator will burn non-hazardous industrial and commercial waste; the one proposed by the council will process household waste for Leeds and the surrounding area
* This incinerator will make no attempt at all to recycle any material, everything will be burned; the proposed Household Waste Treatment Plant would attempt to recycle further materials (a process known as ‘dirty recycling’) once the rubbish has been delivered to the site and burn only what can not be re-used or recycled
* This is a private commercial venture. The council’s plan is for an incinerator with start up finance using Government funding in the form of PFI credits, with the rest of the funding coming from the Council Tax payers of Leeds over a 25 to 30 year period

This facility will have the capacity to produce 21 megawatts of electricity, enough to provide the power for 42,000 homes, though there is no guarantee that it will actually do that.

Biffa is a very large and powerful company with both national and international links. It has a great deal of money and connections to put into the project and did indeed splash out on consultation meetings, leaflets and setting up a dedicated web-site for interested people to look at their plans.

The site of this proposed development was one of the four original sites for the building of the Leeds City Council Household Waste Incinerator, indeed it was the most favourable site of the four according to the original Jacobs Report, however without a word of explanation it disappeared from the list of suitable sites and we were left with only the two sites in Cross Green or Knostrop which are, quite literally, on our doorstep.

We are all told repeatedly, by all those involved in these proposed incinerators, that modern incinerators are completely safe; they give off no harmful emissions. That the noise produced by this industrial process which has to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year will be minimal. Any problems with pest infestation, smells and insects activity, particularly in the warmer months, will not be very noticeable.
Our concerns about the amount of traffic which would be generated by Lorries supplying the raw material for either or both of these plants are more often brushed aside than addressed. The noise and emissions from these Lorries are, we are again told, negligible, we are not in any way convinced of that.

If this plant was to be given the go ahead this area of Leeds, the Lower Aire Valley, would have FOUR incinerators, one landfill and one sewage works.

Our chances of attracting inward investment to an area which would have in effect become an Incinerator Park would, we are sure, be severely damaged.

The residents of this area feel that their concerns and opinions are not being given the consideration and weight they would be given if we were the residents of a leafy and more prosperous suburb.

This area, because of its unique position, being so close to the city centre is ideal for more regeneration. The Victorian East End Park purchased in 1856, is a jewel set in the densely packed housing but with the area having excellent traffic links to the city centre; the transport hub and the suburbs it is an area with enormous potential.

It has been badly neglected for many years. The destruction of the local industries of engineering and tailoring meant many people have left the area and house prices have dropped, leading to many houses being sold to Buy-to-Let absentee landlords but the area has a community and both older residents and newcomers do not want another incinerator here.

They wish to attract more young people into the area to the starter homes at affordable prices and to do that we need to be able to offer the kind of area, facilities and community these people will want to belong to.

The argument is always made, usually by people who do not want these developments themselves, that they have to go somewhere, that it is for the greater good, well the people here feel that they have done more than their share of bearing the burden of cleaning up the waste of this city and have seen nothing in return and it is time for someone else to carry the load for a while.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Rewriting History?

Firstly we have to say that in choosing a heading for their piece on the incinerator that is so very much like our logo, we suppose you could say the Lib Dems are paying us a backhanded compliment however we want to make it crystal clear to everyone that this organisation has absolutelynothing to do with the Lib Dems whatsoever. They have not helped or encouraged us in our campaign to stop the building of an incinerator in our area in any way, indeed when we have raised our objections at both the Richmond Hill Forum and the Inner East Area Committee they have been dismissive of our opinions and hostile to our point of view.

Whilst now they are extremely keen on the line "Now't to do with me gov, its all down to the Labour Party" we say plainly that this is at best deliberately misleading and at worst a lie. It is true that the decision on whether to carry on with the advanced plans to put an incinerator in this extremely unsuitable area, to the clear detriment of the people living here now, rests with the Labour/Green alliance it is equally clear that the decision will be made on mainly financial grounds due to the amount of money already spent on reaching this point in the commissioning process, employing Jacobs to produce several reports on the subject (not least the one to snoop through your rubbish bins), site surveys, publicity, 'consultation events' and other ancillary costs together with any extra financial penalties which might be incurred if the project does not go ahead will eventually decide if this council, now Labour/Green can afford to cancel the project on which the Lib-Con coalition have spent so much of our money.

Anyone who has attended the Richmond Hill Forum since 2005 will know that this item has appeared on almost every agenda. At those meeting Cllr Brett repeatedly told the residents about the proposed 'Waste Treatment Facility', the word incinerator was never mentioned. At every meeting we have attended it has been made perfectly plain to our councillors that the people of this area did not want this project here, so near to our houses and schools and that we felt our area had been unfairly targeted for this project.

At no time did
any of the three Lib Dem Councillors stand up and say "we do not want this here either, we think that Cross Green/Knostrop is the wrong area to build an incinerator".

Now that a campaign has been started by local residents, which is gathering momentum and attracting media and political attention, they appear to be experiencing a sudden conversion to our point of view, accompanied by a severe attack of amnesia regarding events before the last round of local elections but fortunately we have the documents to help refresh their memories!

The Waste Treatment plant was the brainchild of the Lib-Con coalition, the criteria for choosing the sites was, in our opinion, skewed in such a way as to ensure that the project would end up on our doorsteps. Using their criteria this area turned out to be the only area in Leeds considered for the project, all
FOURsites found suitable by the Jacobs Reports being here and when they were whittled down to two sites, Cross Green and Knostrop, again neither at the Richmond Hill Forum nor the Inner East Area Committee meetings did ANY of the three Lib Dems stand up and say 'This is the wrong place to build it, we need to think again!

To say, as the leaflet does, that Labour are wanting to build this incinerator here, implying that it is their idea from beginning to end and the Lib-Cons have fought it tooth and nail is simply not true. Below are some extracts from the Minutes of several Richmond Hill Forum Meetings over the last couple of years that make it perfectly plain that our Lib-Dem councillors knew and supported this scheme wholeheartedly.

However at the last meeting of the RHF at Victoria School before the local elections in May of this year it was made very plain to all three councillors at a noisy meeting that the residents of this community were furious and felt let down by the position their councillors had taken on this matter. The meeting, in fact, voted by a majority of 37 to 1 against the sighting of an incinerator in the area. Co-incidentally this appears, from their leaflets, to be when their conversion to our point of view began.

Leeds Waste Strategy

Cllr Brett advised on the up-to-date position. He explained how the LCC tender system and bidding process worked and that the key criteria to any bid would be long term sustainability. He will keep the Forum advised of developments.

Residents raised their concerns about worsening smells from the seweage works.

Minutes of RHF 7 July 2008


Leeds Waste Strategy

Update report attached (appendix 6)

Appendix 6

Leeds Waste Strategy

Report to Richmond Hill Forum 2 September 2008

The bidder information day for the Residual Waste Treatment project took place on 24th July and was a well attended event with 180 delegates representing a wide variety of organisations and technological solutions, both potential bidders and from within the contractor supply chain, as well as a number of advisory organisations and banks. The event was intended to provide prospective bidders and other interested parties with information on the project, and to provide an opportunity for them to ask questions ahead of the commencement of the formal procurement process. Feedback from attendances on the event was universally positive, both in terms of its quality, the level of attendance and the council’s clarity of strategy. Earlier market soundings and attendance at the bidders’ day indicate that there will be a significant level of interest in the project. The procurement process formally commenced on 30th July with the publication of the contract notice in the official Journal of the European Union (OJEU)

Minutes of RHF 8 September 2008


Leeds Waste Strategy

Cllr Pryke reported that LCC had carried out a consultation on possible sites for the PFI Waste Treatment Project and 3 areas had been identified, all in the lower Cross Green area around the industrial estate. The tendering, and consultation with local residents had begun and a copy of a report on the current status of the residual waste project was made available to the Forum. Cllr Pryke to keep the Forum updated on this issue.

Minutes of RHF 6 April 2009


Information on ‘Leeds Waste Solution Update 5 May 2009’ was circulated to

the meeting (Appendix 6). Cllr Pryke promised to keep the Forum informed

regards this issue.

Minutes of RHF 1June 2009


Leeds Waste Strategy

Cllr Pryke updated the Forum on the Residual Waste Treatment PFI Project and explained that there are currently 3 bidders left in the process, all of them

are proposing to use a range of technology and site options. A copy of a written report from the Head of Waste Management is appended to these Minutes (Appendix 3).

By January 2010 there will be 2 bidders left in the process. The consultation process with residents will then commence and it is expected that a final decision will be made around August 2010. A planning application will then be submitted.

Residents were concerned that out of a possible 2,000 sites in which to locate the proposed plant, the final 4 were all in the lower Aire Valley. Concerns were also raised regarding smells emanating from any proposed plant and they would prefer LCC choose a site as far away from housing as possible.

Councillors confirmed that the site for the proposed plant had not yet been decided but confirmed it would be in the lowerAire Valley area and Skelton Grange was one of the proposed sites.

Cllr Pryke said there was no truth in the rumours circulating that the Neville Hill Rail Depot was a site for a railhead to ship waste from outside Leeds.

A resident requested that before the consultation process begins residents are supplied with full details of the technologies to be used so that detailed research can be carried out before a survey of residents commences.

Cllr Pryke will obtain information on the amount of tonnage and the types of waste currently being burnt at the existing incinerator sites within the Aire Valley for the next meeting.

Minutes of RHF 27 July 2009

We have to say that we are deeply disappointed by this latest tactic in what is clearly the political blame game. Perhaps we were very naive but we felt that, even though we did not agree with them, our councillors were acting on their sincere belief that an incinerator was good for this area, or if it did not help it would at least not do harm to it, but now it seems it was just down to political points scoring after all.

We will keep on campaigning to stop this incinerator because we think it is bad for our area and bad for the city of Leeds but we will not let anypolitical party high-jack this campaign for their own short term political ends - it is just too important to us and our children for that!

We are a non-political organisation, our members represent all shades of political opinion and none, our only interest is in stopping this incinerator being built because we genuinely believe it would be disasterous for our homes, community and our children's future and we believe that this whole process has been deeply flawed from the beginning.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Newsletter Issue 1 July 2010

Welcome to the first edition of our Monthly Newsletter designed to keep local communities in touch with our campaign to stop an incinerator being built at the old Wholesale Market site at Cross Green or at the old filter beds at the Knostrop Treatment works near by.

The no2incinerator campaign organised a Public Meeting at Richmond Hill Primary School at 6.30pm on Monday 21 June 2010 and despite some stiff competition from both the World Cup and the opening day of Wimbledon we had an impressive turnout of local residents and representatives of communities near by who will also be badly affected by this proposed development.

Two presentations were given at the meeting, one from Sarah Covell on the effects of incinerators and incineration on communities like ours, and one on PFI contracts, how they are constructed and what their their long term effects might be from Stuart Hodkinson.

To help what could have been very dry but important facts go down more easily we provided a good sound system and slide show and also home made cakes and refreshments donated by kind volunteers.

After the presentations the residents broke up into four groups to come up with questions which they felt had not been adequately answered by the many 'consultations', leaflets or expensively produced glossy brochures put out by the council. These have now been collated and will be put to the people with the power to answer them at our next public meeting which will be on
13 September, 2010 at 7.00pm at Richmond Hill Primary School, Clark Crescent.

Just before our Public Meeting we were informed that the waste management company Biffa are intending to put in a Planning Application to build a 300,000 tonnes Incinerator in the Lower Aire Valley at the site of the old Skelton Grange Power Station. They too were holding 'consultations' with affected residents, and although their presentation was very slick is did not have home made butterfly buns!

If approved this would mean that this relatively small area of Inner Leeds would be playing unwilling host to FOUR incinerators, one landfill, and a Sewage Works.

Since that meeting however there has been the very worrying development of the fire at a Waste processing plant in Garforth and its as yet unknown long term consequences for the residents of the area. Whilst we have had assurances that the proposed incinerator will be completely safe we are equally sure that the residents of Garforth had the same or similar assurances regarding the plant in their area and the community here, which is already worried and deeply unhappy at the placement of this facility in such a densely populated area, is now even more concerned.

Some of the questions which came out of the meeting we now have answers to and these we will be appearing on the Blog over the next few days, others can only be answered by the people who have the real power to decide or change things and these are the people are we intend to invite to the meeting together with our local councillors, MP and members of the press.

Come along and listen to what they have to say about the things that concern you in the area where you and your children live. If you live here, own a home, have children going to school here this meeting is aimed at you.

This is another chance for the people of Richmond Hill, Cross Green, Osmondthorpe, Halton Moor and the Neville's to have THEIR say on a matter which will affect them and their children for many years to come.

Monday, 12 July 2010

The dangers of PFI

A presentation by Dr Stuart Hodkinson from the School of Geography in the University of Leeds, given in our first open meeting.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The dangers of incineration..

As we have been considering the impact of the proposed incinerator in our area, there is a thought that is never away from our minds: the possibility of something going horribly wrong.

And yes, modern companies with cutting-edge technology do their best to minimise the possibility of an accident, but accidents do happen, some of them with horrible consequences like the recent BP saga in the US.

And today, this piece of news does nothing to make us feel better:

A fire at a waste disposal plant caused great upheaval in the Garforth area, a hotel has been evacuated and streets have been sealed off, in order to fight the blaze and prevent further damage.

The report today in the Yorkshire Evening Post makes an uncomfortable reading: it talks about a "smoke plume" and the possibility of water contamination.

Let's keep an eye on this issue. For the moment, think of the nearby residents who suffer, and the possibility of unforseen consequences of such accidents.