Sunday, 19 September 2010

Issue 3 September 2010 Newsletter

Welcome to the 3rd issue of our monthly Newsletter keeping the residents of East Leeds in touch with the latest news on the proposed incinerators in our area.

Our 2nd Public Meeting was held at Richmond Hill Primary School at 7pm on Monday 13 September and a large number of residents turned out to have their say.

Apologies were received from Cllr Tom Murray, Chair of Executive Board for Neighbourhoods & Environments and Richard Brett, local ward councillor. No apologies were received from Neil Evans, Director of Neighbourhoods & Environments but he did send Susan Upton, Head of Waste Management and her team to answer questions which residents felt she had not adequately answered before, Cllr Ann Blackburn, Leader of the Green Party also attended.

A large crowd of residents listened to an introduction and presentation from Sarah Covell from the NO2Incinerator campaign. With the use of both amplification and visuals the residents were able to take a more active part in the meeting and some very searching questions were put to the panel. There to record the events of the evening were both EAST LEEDS FM and John Baron from GUARDIAN LEEDS, these vibrant locally based members of the media have shown a keen interest in this hot issue.

Cllr Ron Grahame was in attendance as was former ward councillor, David Hollingsworth. Both heard the residents state their strong opposition to an incinerator at either Cross Green or Knostrop, either or both of which the residents felt would be damaging to their health, community and their children's future.

Cllr Blackburn explained her party's position on incineration, they're against it, and she suggested several other technologies which would be better suited to the city. The Waste Management team said they felt incineration was the best method at the price but that whilst price was not the overriding factor, the split was 60% process, 40% price, it was a concideration. The residents clearly felt that price had been the deciding factor above the quality of life for local communities.

When asked about compensation for the residents most directly impacted by these plants Cllr Blackburn explained that there is no mechanism for any kind of compensation for the negative impact of the plants on the area and it was not even possible to object to the plants at the planning stage on these grounds either as they do not match planning criteria.

A DEFRA report was circulated at the meeting by the Waste Management team stating that studies had shown that there were no negative health impact from incinerators, however there are many other studies showing a different point of view and internationally renowned scientists such as Prof. Paul Connett strongly disagree with these assertions.

Since the meeting we have discovered that a peer review by the Royal Society was carried out on this document ends with a quite damning assertion on how reliable the report is. There is even a paragraph called uncertainties which recommends it not be used by local authorities to make policy decisions - even though that's what the report's author says it should be used for! It also states that it is based on very few scientific studies (i.e the ones that count) and the data it relies on seems to be predominantly sourced from non scientific government papers and even data from waste companies themselves.

One resident pointed out the amount of air polution in the Aire Valley already which can be seen in the area on still days and asked how much more pollution would be added if these two plants got the go ahead, again Susan Upton and her team had no definite answers but they cannot be in any doubt that one again they have failed to convince those of us who are most immediately affected by the operation of these plants either of their benefits to us as a community or to the city either.

Residents from across the city attended this meeting and one pointed out that we were being asked to take a lot on trust, trust we did not have. She pointed out the area where she lived, Armley, had once been assured that plants like Turner & Newall were safe however by the time it became apparent this was not true the damage had been done. Sometimes the long term health impacts of industry do not become clear until many years after the damage has been done, Cllr Blackburn agreed but the Waste Management team again re-iterated that they were not aware of any studies indicating adverse effects from modern incinertors - well maybe they are not looking in the right places because such studies are certainly out there.

The meeting ended with a vote of the residents present which was unanimously against incinerators in the Lower Aire Valley.

Our campaign is going from strength to strength, gaining more and more knowledge and more and more support across the city and beyond, because this problem is a citywide problem, one way or another the people of Leeds will be impacted by these incinerators either by being under the plume or by having to pay and pay and pay for outdated, inflexible technology which will prevent the people of Leeds from joining the 21st century or both.

Modern technology is changing so fast new solutions are being found for old problems almost daily but if we go down this route we will be tied to outdated methods of dealing with waste for the next 25/30 years, there will be positive dis-incentives to recycle and valuable and finite resources with be burnt just to keep these plants open.

Footnote: We would like to add a heartfelt thank you to all who made contributions both financial and in kind to the campaign with a special thank you to Julie Jones for manning the tea and refreshment trolley.

We will let you know what is planned next but please note that as well as a Blog we now have a Facebook and Twitter page so add us to your friends and get up to the minute information.

Monday, 13 September 2010

They’re at it again – have these people no shame?

The Lib Dems are once again trying to ingratiate themselves with the No2Incinerator campaign by pretending that the plans for an incinerator in this area are nothing to do with them.

This is a lie!

Even when asked at the last meeting of the Richmond Hill Forum to state their opposition to incineration neither Brett nor Pryke would and no wonder, since they have been working on plans for this incinerator for over 5 years. During that time the Cross Green site was one of 4 under consideration and when it became 1 of only 2 sites in the running and the technology to be used was only to be incineration they still said nothing. It was only just before the May local elections when it became very clear that this incinerator was a vote loser that they started to say that they would fight an incinerator at Cross Green. They now appear to feel that putting an incinerator at Knostrop would be a cheap way to buy of the residents of East Leeds - this blatant and bare-faced re-writing of history shows their complete contempt for the people of this area - their constituents!

NO2Incinerator wishes to make it clear once again that the Lib Dems have not opposed placing and incinerator in our ward. They are now trying to suggest that this is all a Labour idea, this is not true either. We hold no brief for either of these parties but we do not want either one of them trying to shore up their vote on the back of misleading information about our campaign.

Councillors were told repeatedly that the residents of East Leeds had not been properly consulted on plans for an incinerator, these concerns were dismissed out of hand, now it is seen as a stick to beat up their political opponents they are up in arms about it.

Again the timing of the latest Focus leaflet is suspicious to say the least, we are holding another Public Meeting tonight and our campaign is building up momentum and gaining respect amongst the ordinary residents of East Leeds and now, by coincidence, a leaflet appears purporting to show how hard the Lib Dems are fighting the incinerator at Cross Green, though you will notice it does not say anything about the Knostrop site just next door.

This campaign is fighting for our area, a job you might think our councillors are supposed to be doing but all of them are apparently too busy point scoring and sniping at each other to do the job properly. It seems that if you want to know what is really happening with the incinerators in our area you should keep reading our Blog or subscribe to our email mailing list at or our no2incinerator Facebook or Twitter pages and whilst the councillors fight amongst themselves we will do our best to represent the thoughts and concerns of our fellow residents properly.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Incinerator raising the temperature at the Forum

At last night's Richmond Hill Forum meeting, held at Victoria Primary School, there were some very lively views exchanged on the proposed incinerators in Richmond Hill.

Ever since the Waste Treatment plans first appeared on the Forum's agenda several years ago residents have made their strong objections known to our local representatives, apparently without effect, however since the NO2incinerator campaign started gaining ground in the area, indeed across the city and beyond, our local representatives are now having to take notice of our often expressed views.

The mood of the meeting reflected considerable local anger over the whole issue of the sighting of the proposed incinerators, the lack of meaningful consultation with the people most directly affected and the lack of proper consideration of the negative health and development impacts such projects could have on our already depressed and deprived areas.

The Councillors were left in no doubt that the Members of the Richmond Hill Forum expect them to co-operate with each other, regardless of the seemingly endless petty party squabbling, to properly represent the interests and concerns of their constituents - we will be keeping you informed about that!

Don't forget the next public meeting Monday 13th September 2010 at Richmond Hill School - we need to keep up the pressure to be heard

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Are the Residents of Richmond Hill too Negative about the joys of having an Incinerator or two on their Doorsteps!

Well it seems we are - or at least according to Rachael Unsworth, School of Geography, University of Leeds, Director of LISI. Of course, she doesn't live or work in the area nor use its meagre public resources so that might just colour her judgement a bit. According to her:

"The perceived threat of incinerator proposals is unfortunately giving a negative reason for some community cohesion. There is clear tension here between spatial scales with the global, national and city-wide priorities re climate change and resource use clashing with local perceptions of social injustice in the siting of the facility. There is a lack of appreciation by the community of the change in the nature of incineration and of the potential positive benefits of the job opportunities that could ensue both in construction and operation."

So there you have it, the residents here are too stupid to understand that for the sake of the globe; the country; the region and the city we have to put up with these projects and our not perceiving the very positive benefits of having not one but two new incinerators in our area, indeed in some cases on our very doorsteps, is due to our negative, uninformed and incorrect perceptions and not to our genuine concerns regarding the projects themselves. In standing up for our community and our children's futures for the first time in a very long time and banding together to fight these projects we are dismissed as looking at these projects negatively.

It is clear this group only wants community cohesion if it is directed in a way they think is best for this area, an area they don't live in and know little about and care even less. The clear disadvantages this area suffers due to lack of infrastructure, poor quality private accommodation used to house more than our fair share of the challenging people the council has to deal with, poverty, unemployment and poor educational attainment are not to blame for the deprivation to be found here, it is all down to our incorrect perceptions, how patronising is that - talk about talking at us not to us!

These plants will bring jobs - will they - well how many exactly? According to Biffa after construction, which will be undertaken by a large multi-national company whose workers will come from across the globe, there will be precisely 40 jobs at the site, 25 of those for people with highly specialised skills not to be found in the local area so for the sake of 15 unskilled jobs the people of this area are being asked to put up with a large commercial incinerator operating 24 hours a day; 7 days a week; 52 weeks a year - some trade off! The proposed council site is smaller so we can guess that they will need even less local workers.

No2incinerator, the locally based campaign group, about which Unsworth has such negative feelings, does not accept the bland assurances about the safety of the proposed plants, the promised lack of disruption from traffic pollution, noise pollution and vermin infestation which we are worried will affect area and doubts the perceived benefits to the community of these kind of projects, such as the Community Money only on offer if the residents knuckle under and make no objections to the plans.

Since the start of this campaign we have made contact with many groups across the country with similar concerns about the value of incinerators in their communities, and whilst it is true that the vast majority of incinerators are placed in deprived and neglected areas like ours, there are some proposed sites in more affluent areas which are being fought tooth and nail by the local residents, none of whom see the golden future which will be brought about by unquestioningly accepting into their area a project which will not, indeed cannot be foisted on 'nicer' areas.

This is just another self-selecting group trying to manipulate the residents of this area to get their snouts in the public trough. Once again self appointed groups will claim to work on behalf of the residents to improve the quality of their lives, when in effect the only people whose quality of life will be improved will be those in these groups themselves, scooping up scarce public funds for once again telling people in this area what they should want and need but not listening to their concerns or opinions. However when push comes to shove and all the money is gone, they will have something shiny to put on their CV's but once again the residents of East End Park/Richmond Hill will be left holding another bag marked 'empty promises'.