Saturday, 23 October 2010

Thoughts from the Inner East

On Thursday 21 October 2010 at 6.00pm at the Civic Hall the Inner East Area Committee was given a presentation by the Waste Management firm Biffa regarding their proposed INCINERATOR at the Skelton Grange Power Station Site. The presentation was, as always, very slick and this time interestingly contained the news that they now also planning to include a 200,000 tonne Anaerobic Digestion Plant on the same site.

At one time there where more people from the NO2Incinerator campaign than councillors present despite the time of the meeting making it almost impossible for most to people to attend.

Biffa again trotted out the DEFRA report in support of incineration without mentioning the peer review of this report which was carried out by the Royal Society and states that the first Defra report's conclusions alone should NOT be used to inform public policy on this matter despite the authors of the report saying it should be used for that purpose, both the council and Biffa have ignored this prestigious report from a highly respected scientific body.

They also attempted to prove that having an incinerator on this site would mean less traffic movements in the area than having warehousing, which is what the other half of the site is reserved for, but again this is all smoke and mirrors. They have decided how many vehicles there will be from warehouses that do not exist so yes, they can pluck any number out of the air, how can anyone know how many vehicles will be coming and going from these non-existent buildings - it is all pie in the sky but if you don't look too close it sounds good.

Biffa assert that their plant will be able to process half of all the commercial and industrial waste that the city produces so who will deal with the rest of it - is there another incinerator company out there watching and waiting their chance?

The committee noted the presentation. Everything is on hold at the moment until the planning application is submitted, which is going to be very soon, and when those who oppose this technology in general and this scheme in particular will have a chance to make their voices heard in the planning arena.

In a different but not unrelated item Yorkshire Water has used science to avoid incinerating human effluent and pouring the gases produced into the atmosphere. The will now use this waste to meet their own energy needs making a huge saving of the money and allows the human waste that is left after the whole process to be used as topsoil, they are aiming to be almost energy self sufficient by 2020.

If anything this article shows that what was once regarded as 'problem waste' needing to be burned has become a much sort after product and very clearly shows the folly of seeing household and commercial waste as a problem and not as a valuable product and thereby locking your thinking and infrastructure into simply burning it as 'rubbish' instead of viewing it as the solution.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Spreading the Word

Sarah Covell, a member of the NO2Incinerator Group, and the Richmond Hill elected Representative member on the Inner East Area Committee, was given a chance to speak about the campaign, its aims and ambitions when interviewed by this local media organisation.

She gave the group's point of view in response to an interview which was aired last week with Andrew Lingham from the Environmental Team promoting the building of an Incinerator in East Leeds. Though the council, and for that matter Biffa, prefer to call these projects Energy from Waste plants, presumably because it sounds so much more environmentally friendly and less threatening than an incinerator, but the fact of the matter is that whether they are able to find an outlet for any possible power and heat generated by their process or not, they intend to burn the waste anyway.

This is an interesting interview and you can listen to it at

Listen and enjoy and, as always, we welcome your comments and feedback on any aspect of the campaign either here as comments or on email at

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The results of our talks with Biffa

As most of our regular readers know Biffa were instructed by the Plans Panel East to go away and have more inclusive talks with the residents of East Leeds before submitting their plans for a an incinerator to process 380,000 tonnes of commercial and industrial waste per year at the old Power Station A site at Skelton Grange. The second such plant proposed in the same small area of East Leeds.

They agreed to meet a limited number of our members at their site for talks which were held on 28 September 2010. Sarah Covell, Sue Lynch, Philip Tempest and David Faranoff went along to speak to them.

The presentation was very thorough and well put together. They had obviously spent a lot of money on glossy brochures, which they were very reluctant to give to us, but the basis of the argument boils down to the fact that the incinerator they plan is just across the river from one of the proposed sites for the Municipal incinerator at Knostrop.

Some of the points raised:

· The incineration process - they brought out evidence to show that the process is safe in modern incinerators and that there are no recorded ill effects from incineration.

· There are equally prestigious studies by renowned scientific bodies contradicting this point of view and some potential hazards which could occur are not monitored at all.

· They say that if we do not burn this rubbish we will have to put it in Landfill

· This is not true - it will have to be dealt with but it does not have to be landfill, in fact we know of no one in favour of that solution.

· They say that their plant processing 380,000 tonnes of industrial and commercial waste per year can produce heat for nearby businesses - Energy from Waste

· There are no businesses near by as yet and if they do not come or do not wish to use the heat for whatever reason it might simply go to waste. Incineration is a very inefficient way to generate this kind of heat.

· They say that they are building a Waste Recycling plant in Leeds and want to recycle more

· We agree and applaud this - but the fact remains that they plan to run this plant for a minimum of 25 years burning waste. If we successfully recycle more and more waste where will their fuel come from?

· The plume from the 90m chimneys will be blown across East Leeds towards Temple Newsam

· There will potentially be two incinerators blowing their plumes in that direction, not counting the two already working and the other industrial processes as well

· There will be jobs for local people

· Well, no not really - the specialised jobs will go to highly trained people working in the industry already. Construction jobs will go to whoever the contractor employed decides and there is no guarantee that they will be British let alone from East Leeds or even Yorkshire as a whole. There may be a possibility of apprenticeships, but how many and if they would be available to the young people of East Leeds on a preferential basis - again there would be no guarantee

· Money from Biffa to recompense the host community for the clear disadvantages of having such a plant

· Well again no guarantees on if, how much and where it would be spent. Whilst it is true that our area will suffer most directly from the plant it will not be the only area of Leeds that will be affected. There may be some money but it will have to go a long way.

After hashing out all the arguments, only some of which appear above, we felt that we could not support the Biffa bid any more than the Municipal one. We are unconvinced of the total safety of the process though we do not buy into some of the more ridiculous health claims put forward. We are unhappy about the effect of one or two of these plants added to the two we have on the already poor air quality in the east of Leeds and we foresee that becoming an incinerator hot spot with one, two, three or four of these plants operating in our area very close to homes, schools and main transport routes will have detrimental effect on the area's chances of real regeneration which its otherwise unique geographical position would provide.

Lastly our campaign has never been one of simple NIMBYism. We definitely do not want an incinerator here so close to our community but neither do we wish to inflict one on any other community either. We feel that if we decided to say "well it is further away and it is not going to cost us anything to build unlike the Municipal one" we would be giving the green light to a process we feel is actually harmful to the residents of Leeds, now and in the future, and which could open the door to even more incinerator operators, after all if Biffa think that they can build this plant and run it at a profit for 25+ years why not someone else?

We listened to Biffa and wish to thank them for their time and trouble but in the end, having weighed the facts as we see them very carefully, the committee voted 9-0 against the Biffa proposals.

Their bid will be going to Planning in the next week or so and we will get a chance to take a detailed look at the fine print. We urge as many of you as possible to go on line and read the documents. There will be hundreds I fear but on such an important issue as this we have to be prepared to do the research and give the material our best attention.

So the fight goes on for the hearts and minds of the Councillors who will make these decisions and the council officers who will advise them. We have little choice in the matter if we intend to defend not only our community but our city from what we feel is a mistaken 19th century solution to a 21st century problem.

Waste should be seen, and indeed become, not a problem but valuable resource to be used properly for the good of the residents of Leeds. We should be lobbying our councillors for better recycling and curb side collections, rewarding households ready and willing to make greater efforts at recycling and using a carrot and stick approach on businesses to keep down or cut out packaging unless it is really needed. After all you don't have to package oranges or pineapples, nature has already done that and with wrappings that can be composted down!

The committee would really like to hear feedback from you on any and all of the above and look forward to adding your comments below.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Air pollution linked to breast cancer

Air pollution and its effects on people was one of the stories on BBCLookNorth yesterday. People who live near busy roads suffer, their lives are shortened by nine months, 7000 need hospitalisation and 500 of them die each year.

Air pollution has been on the news for a number of years, and it has been a major issue for England since the last century.

Now a new study links air pollution directly to breast cancer.

The study, published in the prestigious journal Environmental Health Perspectives, by researchers from The Research Institute of the MUHC (RI MUHC; Dr. Mark Goldberg), McGill University (Drs. Goldberg, Dan Crouse and Nancy Ross), and Université de Montréal (Dr. France Labrèche), links the risk of breast cancer – the second leading cause of death from cancer in women – to traffic-related air pollution.

Dr. Goldberg and his colleagues approached the problem by combining data from several studies. First, they used the results of their 2005-2006 study to create two air pollution "maps" showing levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a by-product of vehicular traffic, in different parts of Montreal in 1996 and 10 years earlier in 1986.

Then, they charted the home addresses of women diagnosed with breast cancer in a 1996-97 study onto the air pollution maps. Their findings were startling. The incidence of breast cancer was clearly higher in areas with higher levels of air pollution.

These findings are alarming. For those of us who already live near the East Leeds Ring Road, the prospect of more traffic being created due to the proposed incinerators is a cause for great concern.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Who says there's no one listening?

NO2INCINERATOR are very pleased to welcome the new initiative from Leeds City Council to promote a REAL consultation process on the building of a PFI funded Municipal Incinerator at either the Cross Green Wholesale Market site or the Knostrop site near by.

As many of you who follow us regularly will know, we have campaigned long and hard for better consultations on this subject and we have even staged two Public Meetings of our own because we felt so strongly that the residents of the area have not been asked for their opinions or given a real chance to ask difficult and important questions. Early evening meetings on dark winter nights in pokey little rooms in Community Centres for an invited audience only was not our idea of consultation at all!

We urge as many of you as possible to go along to these meetings and listen to what is being said. But please remember that Susan Upton and her team have already made up their minds on the value of an incinerator in Richmond Hill, so please check out other sources of information on the subject as well, after all they are hardly going to explain the drawbacks of some PFI contracts or the negative impact of such a scheme on the regeneration prospects of the area now are they. The disruptive affects of noise, traffic, and possible pollution issues will not sell the idea to the community though, if you live close to either of these sites you will hardly need to have them explained I'm sure.

Everyone agrees that the waste problem in Leeds must be tackled now, for the sake of our pockets and our children's futures, and NIMBYism and Luddite behaviour will not help, however it makes no sense at all to lock ourselves into an inflexible 25/30 year contract in such a shifting market.

Re-use and recycling MUST be the most important planks of any waste strategy for the future, with the carrot and stick approach from the council to back it up. The success of the recent pilot project in Rothwell to collect kitchen waste for composting shows the willingness of the people of Leeds to recycle even more if given the opportunity. Slop buckets in the kitchen and regular curb-side collections of ALL recyclable materials surely makes more sense than burying valuable materials in the ground or setting fire to them.