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.


  1. It was an excellent meeting and well attended. What do you think we should discuss at our next one? Alternatives to incineration maybe?

  2. Yes that sounds like a very good idea. There seem to be a lot of viable alternatives to incineration which are more community friendly in terms of polution, jobs and most of all flexibility for the future.

  3. Flexibility being the key, nothing flexible about burning stuff. If Tom Riordan is so keen to save money he should surely look at how much this PFI incinerator will cost the city.