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'.