Friday, 2 December 2011

Who's getting rich on your money? A BBC Panorama special!





It was on last Monday, and it was good. Schools without light switches, that had to be illuminated day and night, hospitals having to pay their PFI costs first and provide care for their patients later, projects deemed unsuitable for use but paid anyway, by the taxpayer of course.

Please forgive the NO2incinerator for such blatant advertising! It couldn't be helped: this is essential viewing.

PFI has had its share of critics, and its load of bad press. Even the government, it seems, it's having second thoughts.

 It makes us wonder, how is it that our Leeds City Council has seen or heard none of it.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Missing in Action!

At the recent vote by Leeds City Council to confirm the building of a PFI funded municipal incinerator on the site of the old Wholesale Market at Cross Green the Labour Councillors for Burmantofts & Richmond Hill and Temple Newsam went missing in action!  The 4 councillors representing the 2 most affected wards left the council chamber in advance of the vote and did not return until after the vote had been taken, this cynical action was totally unacceptable and a clear dereliction of their duty to their constituents.  They may not have been able to alter the result of the debate but they should have had the courage of their convictions and their their manifestos.

These councillors had campaigned against the incinerator vociferously whilst in opposition and to a large extent had been elected because of their clearly expressed opposition to the project in this area and in failing to reflect the express wishes of their constituents have failed in their duty to their own electorate in a way that would, in any other walk of life, be a resigning matter but resigning on principle is no longer a concept understood by politicians of any party it seems.
NO2Incinerator has worked all along with anyone who shared our opposition to the building of this incinerator in Leeds. Together with No Incinerator Leeds, Friends of the Earth, UKWIN and Palestine Solidarity Campaign we have provided very good soundly based opposition to this project on the grounds of cost, location, technology and the dubious record, both here and abroad, of the final bidder and we have worked with both Lib Dems and Labour who have both at times expressed their opposition to this project.


It appears that the main bones of this project were decided in 2006 by the then Lib Dem/Conservative administration and that the Labour Administration is unwilling or unable to alter the course of this project despite the radically different circumstances now.  


This situation seems to leave the residents of this ward with only one option left; the  voters of Burmantofts & Richmond Hill need to elect a candidate who is willing to stand on an Independent ticket and actually reflect the wishes of their electorate.  Party politics is clearly not working for the vast majority of the people of this area who are constantly ignored, and sidelined by all parties, witness the almost total annihilation of the infrastructure of this area and the lack of any investment in the quality of life or future of the residents.

The time has come to serve notice on ALL the politicians in this city that we, the electorate, want proper representation which puts our needs and wishes ahead of national policy or local party in-fighting and we think now is indisputably the time for a genuine LOCAL, INDEPENDENT candidate to be put forward to stand for the people who elect them and not themselves or their ‘party’ whatever party they represent, that is genuine localism!

IT IS TIME FOR WE, THE ELECTORATE, TO STAND UP FOR OURSELVES; TO STAND TOGETHER AND TO SAY LOUDLY AND CLEARLY "THIS IS OUR COMMUNITY AND WE WANT ACCOUNTABLE REPRESENTATION THAT PUTS US FIRST"

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Incinerator is on the agenda of the Richmond Hill Forum on the 5 December 2011

Artist's rendering of proposed incinerator
Now that the successful bidder for the for the contract has been announced and confirmed by the Executive Board (all three of our councillors attended) and the site they propose to use is known (The old wholesale Market site at Cross Green) we are not sure why they are coming to the meeting.  It is more than plain that they have not listened or taken on board any of the vociferous objections we, the residents attending the Richmond Hill Forum, have been putting forward since 2006 when this scheme was first proposed but perhaps they are using this as yet another 'Consultation' propaganda exercise?  If you look at the rather benign soft focus artist's rendering of what the proposed plant will look like you can hardly see the two 213 foot high chimneys in the background in fact we had to look quite carefully to see them at all, this however will not be a problem for those living near by as they will have no trouble at all seeing the chimneys or hearing the noise of the plant which operates 24/7 or from the traffic taking the waste to the site or removing the by-products.

However if you wish to make you position on the incinerator known come along to the meeting and have your say.  There will be those who object to the whole idea of incineration as an outdated and unsustainable technology; those who object to its location so close to their homes who will be condemned as NIMBY's by those in leafy suburbs who want an incinerator but don't want it anywhere near them; those who object to the successful bidder Veolia on both the grounds of their health and safety record in this country and/or their behaviour in Palestine and finally those who object to the project being financed by a PFI contract which sees us buying this facility on the' never, never' given the rapidly falling waste stream which will be available to fuel this plant.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Comments from Council Khan on a proposed incinerator in the heart of his ward

NO2incinerator have received an email from Councillor Asghar Khan, the newest councillor for our area, stating his position on the building an incinerator at the old wholesale market at Cross Green:


"The Council has decided to build an incinerator and decided upon a preferred supplier.  The preferred supplier wishes to build the incinerator on the old Market site identified by the Liberals/Tories when they ran Leeds. Your then Liberal Councillor and Leader of the Council, Cllr Brett agreed that site in 2007.  As your local Labour Councillors we will argue vigorously against the proposed site being used and lobby Council officials to ask them to identify an alternative site.  We will not support the building of an incinerator on the Market site.
Thank you"

Cllr Asghar Khan
Labour Councillor for
Burmantofts & Richmond Hill ward
Tel: 0776 123 0027

Well that's hardly a definitive statement on the efficacy of incineration in the 21st century nor a denial that he does not want ANY incinerator in our area!  What do our other two councillors say on this matter?

No one with an genuine interest in the future of this area, or for that matter any of the areas downwind of the 2 existing and 2 proposed incinerators thinks this is a good idea.

Friends of the Earth, NIL, UKWIN and other bodies have brought forward large amounts of evidence that indicate incineration as a technology is NOT the win, win option that its proponents claim it is.

Others, like Dr. Stuart Hodkinson of Leeds University, whose is an expert on PFI finance have pointed out the glaring disadvantages of this method of paying for such a long term project for the Council Tax payers of Leeds.

All of this is to no avail, this Labour council is no more willing to listen to the opinions of local residents than the last Lib/Con administration was.

Previous 'consultations' with some of the residents of the affected areas repeatedly returned a resounding NO to another incinerator in this area but since this was not the answer required it was totally ignored.  Minutes of the Richmond Hill Forums from 2006 onwards repeatedly state the strident opposition of local residents to the building of this plant anywhere in East Leeds but again this point of view went totally unheeded.

A new 'consultation' will now be started by Veolia, why -  they have decided the place, the size, the method, the hours of operation of the proposed plant - exactly what is left to 'consult' about, will they not build it if we say we don't want it, of course not?  This 'consultation' will be exactly the same as previous ones carried out by Leeds City Council consisting largely of asking as few people as possible loaded questions on hotly contested statements and totally ignoring any answers which do not give the 'correct' answer!

It is certainly true that this proposed plant is the very worst possible option the council could have chosen for the areas of East Leeds which will be most affected, either directly or indirectly, by this plant and no matter how Veolia attempt to disguised it an incinerator is still an incinerator whatever they call it  and it is still proposed to put it in the very heart of the most deprived areas of East Leeds unless we stand together to oppose this new blight on our communities.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Shocking..


Last week, the preferred bidder for the new incinerator in East Leeds, as well as the - by default - "preferred" location, were finally unveiled to the public.

The company will be Veolia and the site the former Cross Green Markets.

Needless to say this was NOT the news residents in East Leeds were hoping for.

Even though most of the local residents firmly oppose incineration and would prefer that the Council resorted in some other means of dealing with household waste, means such as more recycling for example, there is no doubt that ALL residents of Cross Green, East End Park and Osmonthorpe are appalled with the final choice of location, the nearest of the two "preferred" sites to housing.

With its choice, Leeds City Council shows a blatant disregard for the feelings and needs of the locality and a cynical approach to governance.

Moreover, it seems, Leeds City Council might end up regretting its choice for reasons other than the effect on the health and well being of the local population ( which, obviously, is not their first concern..).

Veolia, has been criticised by a number of different sources and for a number of different reasons, from human rights abuses in Palestine to poor safety record and for posing a financial risk.

Some of the arguments, we are reproducing bellow from the site http://wastedfood.co.uk

28 reasons to be against the Leeds Incinerator




1)Incineration burns material that could be recycled.



2)Leeds should recycle all 7 main types of plastic and glass. There is some debate as to the best method for processing textiles.



3)Incineration depresses recycling rates, several UK and EU studies have shown this.



4)The company chosen for the 25year PFI contract can only make profit if sufficient waste is burnt. The Sheffield incinerator recently had to apply for planning permission to burn waste from outside of Sheffield. Therefore the taxpayer may end up subsidising a company to burn waste from outside of Leeds.



5)Recycling provides more jobs than incineration and helps reduce the UK trade deficit.



6)Veolia have nearly been bankrupt within the last 10 years. Veolia is suffering from financial problems and recently had to end operations in 37 countries! Its share price is currently lower than the last time it nearly went bankrupt.



7)Veolia have a dubious safety record. Within the past 10 years several UK Veolia employees have been injured and two have died. They have been fined almost £500000 in the UK within the last 10 years and additional fines across the world.



8)Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA) and flue/filter remains will be produced. 10-20% of material after incineration is still landfilled or has to processed further within Yorkshire. This involves extra transport or landfill.



9)Incineration will create particulate matter (PM) , NO2, Dioxins and various nano-particles which affects human health. UK resident life expectancy is shortened by several months due to PM.



10)Several studies have shown increased toxicity or amounts of carcinogenic compounds near incinerators.



11)Recycling rates in Leeds are 40%, this is woeful compared to similar sized cities. The best in the UK is currently a 70% recycling rate. It is likely that cities will improve on this 70% figure.



12)A food waste collection was initiated within Rothwell and has proved successful. This should be widened across the city to create economies of scale. The food remains should be used to generate power and/or compost.

13)Less than 50% of UK councils have a weekly black bin collection. This black bin could easily be changed to a green collection.



14)The council have secured £68M for a final waste solution, surely this money could be better spent on Anaerobic Digestion, Mechanical sorting plants or increasing the range of recyclables.



15)The incinerator(s) will be 42m high with a 65m tall chimney. One or both incinerators will be visible from parts of Beeston, Belle Isle, Burmatofts, Cavalier Hill, City Centre, Halton, Holbeck, Hunslet, Osmonthorpe, Middleton, Richmond Hill, Robin Hood, Rothwell, Temple Newsham, Woodhouse Hill and elsewhere.



16)The online petition has several hundred signatures and many groups oppose incineration. http://tinyurl.com/leedsincinerator In addition there is several hundred written signatures.



17)While the incinerator will generate electricity it produces twice as much Co2 as burning fossil fuels. There are much cleaner ways to generate energy. In addition landfill sites, while not ideal, often burn the methane produced from waste. Ideally Anaerobic Digestion etc should be used to process food or other wastes. Recycling also reduces the CO2 involved with mining/drilling. Organisations like CO2 sense and the carbon trust could finance these projects.



18)The incinerator will not help the council’s commitment to reduce C02 by 40% by 2020/1 compared to 2008/9.



19)UK & EU pollution and environmental legislation are becoming more stringent and could easily undermine a 25 year PFI incinerator.



20)Veolia has been involved with projects within Israel. The worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has many supporters. Within Leeds the Palestine Soldarity Campaign (PSC) has been vocal.



21)PFI deals are not cost effective in the long term and cost more than if the government directly borrowed the money.



22)Alternative funding for Anaerobic digestion or other facilities may be available through the Carbon trust and CO2sense.



23)Labour currently have the majority in the council. Despite opposing incineration while in opposition they are currently supporting it.



24)There is now a fight to stop a 2nd incinerator proposed by Biffa.



25)The bidding process is down to two bidders. Certain councillors fear they will be sued. However Councils in Hull and East Riding found last minute reasons. Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has even prepared a £20000 fund to fight a county council decision to build an incinerator. Several councils have recently found reasons to prevent incineration including: Cheshire East and Nottingham.



26)Traffic will be focussed on to one location.



27) It maybe a weak argument but incinerators are planned for Harrogate and Bradford, therefore there maybe overcapacity in the waste network.


To the above, we wish, at this stage, to add at least one more: the fact that WE DO NOT WANT IT!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Lessons from PFI and other projects




PFI is on the news again, as hospitals all over the land are finding it hard to meet huge repayments every year, repayments of billions of pounds a year for some. As a result the hospitals will have to cut down on essentials and one way or the other, as the New Statesman prophetically said a couple of years ago, the taxpayer will once again foot the bill.


And it isn’t just hospitals: it’s schools, IT systems, housing or sewage and they all have two things in common. One, that the costs spiral out of control, from hundreds of thousands to billions of pounds, and two, that when things go wrong ( which they often do) it is very difficult to put them right!

And yet, our own City Council is planning to build a huge new incinerator using exactly that method of finance, a method that has proven to be costly and dangerous!!

When will they learn?

During the last forum meeting in Richmond Hill, once again, conveniently, there was no one available to talk finances.

We urge our councillors to reconsider, to calmly but diligently take a good look at the evidence and the experience of PFI schemes elsewhere in the country.

To quote Nick Cohen, “If you owe the bank £100, you're a debtor. If you owe £100m, you're a partner. The private finance initiative and public- private partnerships create de facto private monopolies. In utopian free-market theory, the customer can always shop elsewhere. With the PFI, the supplier has the customer by the throat”.

Let us learn the lessons from PFI projects, before it's too late!!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

AT LAST! The date and venue for the Richmond Hill Forum.

The time and venue for the next Richmond Hill Forum have been confirmed only ONE WEEK from the date of the meeting.

Richmond Hill Forum Agenda Papers

This is an important meeting and despite the lack of notice we would urge as many as possible of you to get to this meeting if you possibly can.

Waste Management is supposedly coming to this meeting as as we are nearly at the deadline for announcing the lucky winner of the PFI Incinerator contract lottery.

We need to be there and show the strength of our feelings on this matter.  The time has come to stand up and be counted, not only for our area and our children's futures but for the future of the whole city.


Come along to the meeting, tell your friends and neighbours about it.  There are many important things to do with this area on the Agenda and this is the ONLY forum in the whole city were ordinary residents can come along and have their say.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Richmond Hill Community Forum

Richmond Hill Community Forum
Monday 6.00pm
19 September 2011
(NO VENUE ANNOUNCED YET)


Once again Waste Management is on the agenda for this meeting but this time it is listed as Waste Management Facility.  Does this mean that the decision we have been awaiting regarding the naming on the lucky winner of the PFI 'jackpot' has been made, we just don't know?


We know that last time they did not turn up but this time we expect them to, when a venue is finally announced.  The fact that the date of the meeting has been changed and that no venue has yet been confirmed, even at this late date, would lead those of us with suspicious minds to suggest that this meeting is not meant to be well attended - but we hope that that will not be case.


As soon as the venue is confirmed we will put it on the Blog, Facebook and Twitter and emailed to our friends so what this space.


We need to turn up and ask the awkward questions about this facility, its costs, its effects and its future that the residents of Leeds deserve to have asked

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Waste Management and the PACT meeting

Last night in a truly bizarre twist Waste Management, in the the form of Andrew Lingham turned up at the neighbourhood policing meeting held at the Richmond Hill Community Centre completely out of the blue. The subject of the proposed incinerator then took up almost the entire first hour of the two hour meeting though it had absolutely nothing to do with local policing.

 
We get the impression that Andrew thinks there is personal animosity between protest groups like ours and himself so let us assure him here and now that this is in no way true. NO2Incinerator knows quite well that Andrew is only doing the job he is employed to do the best way he can and we, at least, respect the fact that he is willing to come to meetings and fight his corner unlike others in his department.

 
I suspect that we are never going to agree on the incinerator but Andrew did tell us that the final decision on the winning bid will be announced around November and that the planning application will go in early next year.

 
He also confirmed that the decision to build an incinerator and to build it here was taken some years ago and that none of the "consultations" had any effect on that process. There will be further "consultations" when the winning bidder is announced but on what are we to be consulted?
  • It will not be the site - that has been decided;
  • it will not be the winning bidder - that will have been decided too;
  • it will not be the process to be used -that will have been decided
so what is left to talk about, the colour of the railings? These consultations are a dialogue with the deaf, they do not talk with us, they talk at us.

 
Insp J Hawkes
Several concerns were raised regarding this project amongst them traffic pollution from lorry movements in and out of the chosen site, Insp Jackie Hawkes said it would be no worse than the old car boot generated once a week, the audience were less than convinced by that argument. We also raised the matter of the falling waste stream, pointing out that Leeds had managed a 40% recycling rate for two months running even with little publicity and no city wide food collections yet started however this was dismissed by Andrew who seemed to imply that the figures were misleading.  He did agree that in the future there was likely to be less waste to process but maintained that there would be enough to keep an incinerator going without importing waste though he did mention that this incinerator would be processing some commercial waste which we had not previously been told. We vigorously challenged this assertion and pointed out that in just 10 years Sheffield have gone from not importing waste for their incinerator to wanting to import 50,000 tonnes of waste to keep its going because of a diminishing waste stream despite the assurances they gave at the time. There is no way that over the 25 year lifetime of this contract Waste Management could guarantee that they would not have to do the same, they simply do not have a crystal ball.

 
Concerns about the inclusion of Veolia in the bidding process, given their involvement in human rights violations as cited by the United Nations, was raised but Andrew was understandably not able to say much about that, neither could he address the issue of the PFI funding for this project despite the very well documented problems with multiple PFI projects around the country, it is simply not his area of expertise.

 
All in all it was a very strange meeting, we are sure that had it been widely known in advance that this matter was to be discussed last night many more interested people would have been there, certainly more people came to the last Richmond Hill Forum especially to discuss this very matter when Waste Management did not turn up (due apparently to some confusion) and we hope that Waste Management will turn up to the next Richmond Hill Forum meeting on Monday 5 September 2011 at St Phillip's Church Hall Osmondthorpe Lane, Leeds when we will again try to put our points of view across  - because the people in this area matter, their concerns and worries are just as valid as those in more affluent areas and we will not be brushed aside easily. We will fight tooth and nail for the future of our community and our children which we believe the incinerator will put in serious jeopardy.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Richmond Hill Forum is discussing the Incinerator again

The Richmond Hill Forum, 6pm 13 June 2011 at the Richmond Hill Community Centre, Long Close Lane, Leeds,  will again be discussing the progress that has been made on the Waste Treatment Plant (Incinerator to you and me).

We are now coming closer and closer to the final bids for this plant being submitted and quite soon after that it is proposed to award the PFI contract to the winning bidder.

Until we know who the winning company is we will not know where this plant might eventually be built.  If Aire Valley Environmental win the contract the plant they want to build is proposed for the old filter beds at the Knowsthorpe Sewage Works, if Veolia were to win the contract they would want to put the plant on the site of the Old Wholesale Market at Cross Green right on our doorsteps.

Come along to the meeting, listen to what everyone has to say about the plans and the progress that has been made to date.  Take this chance to make your own views known to the Waste Management Team and the local Councillors, ask questions, find out where we are with this project now, what total cost is expected to be, indeed what it has cost already and most importantly what we really need for the future.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

NO2Incinerator making their case at the Richmond Hill Family Fun Day

NO2Incinerator at the Richmond Hill Family Fun Day 1 June 2011

The NO2Incinerator campaign took a stall at the Richmond Hill Family Fun Day at All Saints School field on Wednesday afternoon.

We gave out publicity materials on our campaign and collected 'footprints' for our STAMP IT OUT art project.

It was a great chance to talk to people in the area about the implications of the proposed incinerators in East Leeds and their possible effect on our area and to put across our point of view and also explain about the problems there have been with other similar projects around the country.

A great time was had be all and congratulations must be passed on to External Services who put on a truly entertaining event and the weather was, for once, on our side everyone seemed to have an absolutely fabulous time.  The exotic creatures were a very big hit with everyone as you can see from the pictures in the slideshow.

Monday, 30 May 2011

NO2Incinerator will be at this community event


The NO2Incinerator campaign will be  at this community event to spread the word on the REDUCE, RE-USED and RECYCLE and to join in the fun.

We will be collecting footprints for our STAMP IT OUT art installation campaign, handing out balloons and publicity material and lollipops and hoping to interest both children and their in this important matter for all our futures.

Come along and enjoy the fun events, the result of some excellent work from the Extended Services team.

We are expecting a great time to be had by all.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Veolia seeks to combat Sheffield EfW shortfall

Incinerator Sheffield
One of the 2 remaining companies trying to win Leeds City Council’s contract to build an incinerator is Veolia. Veolia runs an EfW plant in Sheffield which has been operational since 2007. The company is now seeking to vary its planning permission for this plant to allow it to source 50,000 tonnes of residual waste from surrounding councils to make up the shortfall at the 250,000 tonnes a year plant following concerns about future under-capacity. The contract was signed in 2001 and already changes in people’s behaviour, increased recycling and an economic downturn is having a detrimental effect on the operation of the plant.

We have said all along that the proposed 160,000 tonnes Leeds incinerator, to be built under a PFI contract lasting as least 25 years, would be subject to the same commercial pressures and we have stated again and again our firm belief that if it became necessary the planning permissions under which such a plant should operate would be varied in order to keep the facility viable. When this concern was raised at the Richmond Hill Forum it was vigorously denied by the then council leader, Cllr Richard Brett (Lib Dem – Richmond Hill), but he did allow that there was provision for a 1% of waste to come from outside the area to cover areas which whilst not in the municipal area of Leeds which still had waste collection controlled by Leeds City Council. We however were not then, and are not now, convinced by these assurances since if this hugely expensive contract were to be signed the council would have no choice but to go along with any changes which the operator wanted or face having the plant closed or running at a substantial loss.

Our suspicions on this matter seemed to be confirmed when we realised that the Jacobs Report, which identified the four sites finally put forward for this project scored all the sites examined for access by road, rail and canal which pretty well ensured that the lower Aire Valley would be home to whichever site was finally selected. Why would bin wagons need either rail or canal access?

We have repeatedly pointed out the fast changing type and amount of waste across our city. We have stated plainly that inevitable future changes in the amount of waste available for incineration will affect the viability of any such plant thereby making it inevitable that waste would have to be imported to fill the shortfall if a combination of regulation, education and recycling succeed in lowering residual waste across the city as seems likely.

The Sheffield project has seen a huge change in its waste stream in just 10 years resulting in it needing to import waste from surrounding areas, the contract for the Leeds Municipal incinerator is planned for at least 25 years so it seems likely to us that whatever the assurances now it is likely that we too will end up shipping in waste from other areas to keep this municipal millstone from crushing us.

The Leeds City Councillors must stop, think and re-evaluate this project.

• Yes we have to deal with municipal waste.

• No we cannot keep sending so much to landfill.

• This technology, financed in this way, is not the answer.

Incineration does not make waste magically disappear it simply reduces the amount of waste to roughly one third but an amount of the ash produced by this process is extremely toxic and requires specialist disposal.

The costs to Leeds Council Tax payers involved in buying this seemingly quick solution to a very difficult and constantly evolving problem by buying an incinerator on the "never never" will burden our children and grandchildren and won’t solve the problem.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Well that's the election out of the way - now back to business

A nasty and rather bad-tempered bye-election campaign in our ward has resulted in a win for Asghar Khan, the Labour Party candidate.

Both of the parties likely to win here tried to use the anti-incinerator campaign to their advantage but neither would rule out the possibility of an incinerator here in the end.

We have been told by the winner Asghar Khan that he is personally not in favour of an incinerator at Cross Green but then neither are the Lib Dems, hardly surprising really since any other statement would have guaranteed the loss of a huge numbers of votes locally as they must surely have heard the very strong and vocal opposition here to the plan. 
However we may still end up with a plant there or at Knostrop even if all the councillors in this ward and most in the wards surrounding that are likely to be directly affected don’t agree because at the end of the day it will be the decision of the whole council which will decide the matter and other councillor’s first concern may very well be “well so long as they don’t build it in my nice area, what does it matter?”

We are repeatedly told that this is/was a heavily industrialised area in the past so does this mean that the not inconsiderable numbers of people currently packed into this area don’t count? Can you put what you like here now regardless of the effect on the area or its residents because these people have been treated badly in the past so it is alright to ignore them and dismiss their justifiable concerns now?

We, of course, don’t agree but this is not a NIMBY issue for us, we don’t want to inflict an incinerator on any other area of the city either nor do we don’t want to mire ourselves, our children or our grandchildren in debt paying for an outdated technology to burn scarce and valuable resources in an unsustainable way.

We ourselves have suggested several schemes to REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE waste together with schemes to get more kerbside collections of specific waste streams with a carrot and stick approach which would reduce even further the amount of waste which would have to be burned or sent to landfill.

We know that the Lib Dems spent almost £1M in getting the project to May 2009 (FOI request) and they themselves say that the Labour controlled council has or is going to spend £1M, though they don't provide proof of this figure, but with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (trying to stop the contract going to Veolia) raising legal questions and the chance that Veolia will appeal if stopped from bidding this whole thing could end up costing the Council Tax payers of Leeds a not so small fortune trying to back what we are totally convinced is the wrong horse.

Despite the fact that the plans are well advanced and that huge amounts of money have already been spent we feel that this is the wrong option financed in the wrong way and we will keep on campaigning to stop this expensive mistake from being made.

It is our hope that now the bye-election is over that this matter can be discussed in a more adult and sensible way. NO2Incinerator is not FOR or AGAINST Labour; it is not FOR or AGAINST the Lib Dems it is AGAINST INCINERATION! We will not stop our campaign on this matter, despite attempts to put pressure on us, to do so.  We will continue to gather information, publish views on this subject and hope to change the minds of those with the power to stop this project since we firmly believe, on so many different levels, that incineration is a 19th century technology that does not hold the solution to the 21st century's waste problem in the long term.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Candidates, the Incinerator and the local elections


Asghar Khan Labour Candidate
Well at last we have the Labour Party candidate’s position on the building of an incinerator in East Leeds which can best be summed up as not at Cross Green it is too near housing and will annoy too many voters but not ruling out the Knostrop site and anyway we would not be in this mess if the Lib Dems hadn’t started this project in the first place. 
David Hollingsworth Lib Dem Candidat

  
In this respect at least it seems that they are in a  very similar position to the Lib Dems, as they too do not want an incinerator on Cross Green for, we imagine, the very same reasons but they also would be prepared to put up with one at Knostrop, whilst pointing out that the other two incinerators in our area already are also at Knostrop and that they where built by the then Labour administration 20 years ago.


As you know this is not the position of the NO2Incinerator campaign. We oppose the building of an incinerator full stop! We are convinced that this plant would prove to be grotesquely expensive particularly using a PFI formula to pay for it; that its inflexibility would make it unable to adapt  to changing conditions and lifestyles and that its very presence would stop attempts to reduce, reuse and recycle household waste.  Local enterprises which would provide many more local jobs as well as helping the environment and offering a more sustainable long term solution.

An incinerator will provide few, if any local jobs, even in the construction phase, as there is no mechanism to allocate jobs to local firms since such a huge project will go out to tender and large multi national construction companies will bid for the work. When completed there will be only a handful of low skilled jobs on offer and a similar amount of highly skilled specialist jobs which local people will not have the necessary skills to apply for.

For us this is NOT a party political issue it is about the right technology to solve this difficult and ongoing problem; quality of life for residents of East Leeds; the effects of this project on the future regeneration potential of our area and the cost and sustainability of the project for Council Tax payers across Leeds as a whole.

It seems from a careful reading of the election leaflets we have received so far that neither of the two  most likely winners of the local election in our area is willing to say that they are against the building of another incinerator in our area. They both seem to us to be resigned to having an incinerator at Knostrop and each is busy trying to sell us the idea that it is all the other party’s fault.

We however don’t believe that it is inevitable; we think that any fair review of the Waste Stream Plan will show that the situation has changed markedly over the last 6 years since the project was first conceived, industry, government and educational initiatives have each brought about steady changes in actions and attitudes from ordinary people and these will go on changing rapidly for the foreseeable future. Committing ourselves to an inflexible 25 year plan in an ever shifting waste disposal climate is reckless, bull-headed and very likely to be an expensive mistake.

We have not so far received anything from either the Convervative candidate nor the Green Party candidate but when we do we will let you know where they stand on this issue.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Waste - the problem that won’t go away

As members of the NO2Incinerator campaign we are fully committed to stopping the building of an incinerator in Leeds, not because we are NIMBY’s but because we don’t want to see this outdated, expensive and inflexible technology used to try to solve a fast moving, ever evolving 21st century problem.

One thing is certain; we cannot go on as we are.  Putting large amounts of reusable, recyclable waste into a large hole in the ground is a very bad idea on the grounds of cost, availability of sites and environmental impact - this is about the only thing that the opposing sides in this dispute actually agree on.

We though feel that incineration is an equally bad solution to the problem.  It is time to face up to the real causes of the waste stream problem, not only city-wide but also nationally - the over production of waste itself. 

Much of what we, in Leeds, throw away as rubbish is in fact, valuable recyclable materials which are rapidly becoming scarcer in this modern world.

The unpleasant but inescapable truth about our household waste problem has not been sufficiently highlighted by our politicians, mainly because of an unpalatable fact we just don’t want to face – however face it we must, we simply cannot continue with our profligate lifestyle as it is becoming ever more unsustainable in the long term.

Changes must be made to how we shop, reducing the amount of packaging we are willing to accept or have come to expect, after all do tomatoes, kiwis or peppers really need to be sold on a plastic tray covered in clingfilm?  Not using extra plastic bags at the supermarket but taking our own re-useable ones, buying products marketed with substantially less packaging wherever possible or where packaging is made from recycled materials will make a difference and after all the cost of all the extra packaging has to be reflected in the price of the product.  Keeping food waste to an absolute minimum by not buying more than can be used is a good way to save money and help the environment too but where food must be thrown away it should, wherever possible, be composted instead of going to landfill to rot and produce dangerous gasses.

Clothes, books and toys can be recycled using Charity shops and jumble sales so the items benefit many other people.  Many local supermarkets these days have a bin to recycle used household batteries shoes and paper. 

Larger items of furniture and household goods can be recycled using excellent community organisations like FREECYCLE, EMMAUS, St VIncents, SLATE and SEAGULLS.

NO2INCINERATOR is also campaigning for more recycling bins around residential areas for the collection of glass, plastic and paper and more kerb side collection of waste by the council such as the unexpectedly successful food waste collection trial recently run in Rothwell were waste collection targets were smashed.

Even at the end of all this we do realise that there will be waste that cannot be further treated and will have to be disposed of, but with government support on offer and large financial rewards available to anyone who comes up with a safer and more cost effective method of waste treatment we are confident that really innovative solutions will come forward to offer a more efficient and effective 21st century solution to this problem.

We are not saying that solving this difficult problem will be easy, it won’t, we’re not saying that solving this problem will be cheap, it won’t, but we are saying that it is a nettle which we will have to grasp either willingly or unwillingly.  We simply cannot go on as we have been and if people will not listen and change willingly then councils and indeed governments may decide on a more carrot and stick approach to gaining our co-0peration. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

NO2Incinerator at the West Indian Centre

NO2Incinerator took their campaign against the building of a PFI funded municipal incinerator at either Cross Green or Knostrop to the West Indian Centre for the Love Music Hate Racism event on the 1 April 2011. 
Copyright COVEN 2011

Whilst there they met some very interesting and interested young people who listened to what we had to say and then were only too willing to show their support for the STAMP IT OUT art installation project we are running this summer as part of our campaign.

Amongst those only too happy to lend their backing to this very important project was the well known musician MUMZY pictured above.

It was a great evening and Sarah and Andrew made lots of friends for the continuing campaign.  Since it is the young people of the city of Leeds who will end up paying the on going price if the wrong decision is made on the future of waste management it was very encouraging to see the level of interest and commitment shown.

We will be holding STAMP IT OUT events all summer long and would welcome sensible suggestions for venues for these events as well as suggestions for exhibition spaces as well.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Incinerator heats up the election in Burmantofts & Richmond Hill

In the latest missive from the Lib Dems they pose the very reasonable question “Why have Labour delayed the decision on the incinerator until after the May election” we too, of course, are very interested in the answer to this question and have asked the Labour Party for an answer.


They further state that Labour has committed £1M to the project, though they do not state where they came by this figure, if this is accurate we too would like know why they have done this. We know that the Lib Dem/Cons spent approximately £1M (FOI request) up to May 2010 on preparing for an incinerator so why the need to spend another £1M?


This project has now become a major issue in the upcoming local elections and it seems that neither of the parties most likely to be vying for the seat in our area have been particularly transparent about their position on this matter so we have just two simple questions which need to be put to anyone standing in the May elections, they are simple, straightforward and require only a one word answer:
  1. Is your party in favour of the building of a Municipal Incinerator at either Cross Green or Knostrop?

  2. If elected will you personally campaign against an incinerator regardless of your party’s position on this matter?

The answers do not require any candidate to speculate on their opponent’s possible position or point out what they believe that was in the past, all they need to do is to state clearly and unequivocally what their own position is and that of their party is on this matter now.

We strongly believe that this issue is too important to be lost in the hurly burly of the local elections. This is a matter of great urgency and importance to the NO2Incinerator campaign, the residents of East Leeds and the people of Leeds generally. It will radically affect the future of every resident of the city for the next 25 years at least. This project will have environmental, regeneration, health and financial impacts across this area in particular and the city as a whole. It will affect how we are able to deal with a fluid and rapidly changing waste stream situation in the future because, if approved, this PFI project will have to be paid for regardless of whether it is used to capacity or not used at all and that must skew the debate away from the REDUCE, RE-USE and RECYCLE agenda.

We think it is excellent that this matter is being given a much higher profile and being more openly discussed across our Ward and the city as a whole, however at the moment this is a discussion which is generating considerably more heat than light and as electors we need and deserve clarity and complete honesty from those who do now, or would like in the future, to represent us. Tell us unambiguously where you stand on this very important matter - surely it is the least we can expect of those who claim to speak on our behalf?

Friday, 18 March 2011

When will they stop posturing and start listening?

Liberal Democrat Press Release 18 March 2011


It seems that the first thing to go up in flames in this debate is the idea that our politicians could work together to get the best results for the residents of the city of Leeds (their constituents) as this issue descends into the usual party political knockabout.
  • Yes this project was started by a Lib/Con council who ran the process for more than 5 years, incurring costs of approximately £1M+ of Council Tax payers money during that time before losing control of the council in May 2010.
  • No it has not been cancelled by the Labour Party
So both parties are equally in the firing line as far as the NO222222222incinerator campaign is concerned! NO22incinerator has no problem at all in saying that we think this proposed incinerator will be a disaster for our area and the people of Leeds as a whole.

We have called on the Labour administration of the city to stop this project immediately. It is pointless of them to say "we did not start this project" at this point we don't care who stated the process what matters most now is who puts a stop to it; what matters now is that no more time or money is wasted on this project. This is a PFI project which could end up costing the people of Leeds a conservative £380M over 25 years. It is an inflexible and old fashioned technology which does not properly address modern waste stream issues or the rapidly changing situation in this and other industries or rapidly changing economic factors and people's changing lifestyles.

This is not a quick cheap alternative to landfill; it was never going to be that, we have to re-adjust our thinking and our own lifestyles to solve this difficult long term and very expensive problem. We must work harder at REDUCE, RE-USE and RECYCLE and turn problem waste into a valuable commodity in a world with dwindling natural resources and politicians of all parties MUST find the courage to tell their electorate the truth about the lifestyle changes that will have to be made by everyone in the future to really address this problem properly.

Perhaps if they all spent less time pointing the finger at each others policies they would have more time and energy to address the matters of real and immediate importance to the Council Tax payers of Leeds - or is that too much to hope for?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Report from the Richmond Hill Forum 8 March 2011

Waste Treatment Facility update

The Waste management team tried to answer some of the concerns of residents, as did a representative of the Environment Agency and Planning department of LCC. We think it is fair to say though that there was no meeting of minds on the safety, advisability or necessity of this project.

We were told that the main cause of pollution in our area is the York Road [you will remember that the Inner East Link Road has just opened in our area – great that will be a big help with air quality!]. Though the EA will monitor air quality in our area, and if they think the project would raise emissions above presently accepted safe levels they could refuse a permit. However we do not know how they would assess the effect of so many projects coming into the area at once, 2 incinerators with the associated traffic together with the added extra traffic generated by the proposed warehousing and housing developments in the area is bound to have a substantial effect.

It was clear from what was said at the meeting last night that the PFI Incinerator plan is still going full steam ahead though the winning bidder looks like being announced in the autumn of this year and not the summer as was previously stated.

We were informed that a robust challenge has been made to one of the bidders, Veolia ES Aurora Ltd, because of serious concerns regarding their safety record globally and because of their association with the Israeli state in occupied Palestine which has caused UN and international condemnation of the company. We were told that this matter has been referred for legal oversight but we will keep you informed of any further information.

Full report of the Richmond Hill Forum

Monday, 7 March 2011

Will Labour come clean?

It is the unequivocal position of the NO2Incinerator campaign that Leeds City Council’s plans for a PFI funded incinerator at either Cross Green or Knostrop should be cancelled immediately. It is the wrong technology in the wrong place and besides being too expensive it lacks the necessary flexibility to meet the ever evolving waste disposal situation we will find ourselves in over the 25 years of the contract.

We are informed by a prominent local Liberal Democrat that if Labour wanted to, they could stop this plan dead in its tracks. He accuses them of hypocrisy and asserts that when Labour took power no contracts had been signed and we were still 4 years away from work starting on [the yet to be chosen] site. He does state that the council would face compensation claims from the bidding companies in the event of cancellation but puts no price tag on the total amount of those claims. (We have tried to get these figures ourselves by using FOI requests and by raising the question at both the Richmond Hill Forum and the Inner East Area Committee, so far without success, but we will keep after them).


He further asserts that the Lib Dems went along with the Waste Treatment project in the first place only because of the clear advice given by council officers stating that it was the best solution to the waste problem and that in their position Labour would do the same - so our question is; is Labour doing the same thing - are they following the same advice? He also clearly states that there would be no insurmountable obstacles to cancellation of the project if Labour wants to do it, so again, is he right?

We intend to ask all prospective candidates in the upcoming election for their position on this vital issue and, if given permission, we will publish their replies here. We have to say though that whilst the latest leaflet from the Labour Party speaks of their achievements in the local area and addresses national issues it does not mention the incinerator at all and considering the importance of this matter to the constituents in the Burmantofts and Richmond Hill ward in particular and the people of Leeds in general that is simply not acceptable. We need to know who exactly has the last word on the decision whether or not to build an incinerator and where, is it our elected representatives or their council officers, does the advice from council officers override the feelings of the councillors?


It seems almost everyone in this area is willing to state that they are not in favour of building the proposed incinerator at Cross Green and little wonder, as you can see from the map opposite, how near to densely packed housing it would be, but what happens if the bidder who favours that site puts forward the best bid from a council/council officers prospective?

(To enlarge picture simply click twice)


We need the answers to these questions now. As we understand the position at the moment the timetable is as follows:

The final two bidders are

Aire Valley Environmental who are proposing to build a facility at the current Knostrop sewage treatment site.

Veolia ES Aurora Ltd who are proposing to build a facility at the former wholesale market on Cross Green industrial estate

In the coming years the key dates are

Autumn 2010 – Consultation to update the public on the progress of the project
Spring 2011 – Final proposals from two bidders
Summer 2011 – Successful bidder chosen
Autumn/winter 2011 - Public consultation on planning application begins
Autumn/winter 2011 – Bidder submits planning application
Autumn/winter 2012– Planning decision
Spring 2013 – Construction begins
Summer/Autumn 2015 – Facility starts processing waste

If anyone has a different point of view to that expressed on this Blog or wishes to challenge any of the assertions made here in good faith they are more than welcome to submit items for publication refuting that point of view. They will be published in full and unedited as all material submitted for publication from all sources are, subject only to the proviso that the material is not profane, racist or attempts to incite either violence or other unlawful acts, alternatively everyone is free to comment on anything which appears on the Blog either anonymously, under their own name or using a synonym, again subject to the previous conditions.

We welcome open public debate.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Waste Incinerator on Agenda at Richmond Hill Forum Meeting


RICHMOND HILL FORUM
Inner East Area Committee

Forum Date & Time: Tuesday 8th March 2011, 6pm

Venue: Victoria Primary School


AGENDA

1. Introductions and Apologies

2. Minutes of Last Meeting and Matters Arising

3. PACT – Neighbourhood Policing Team

4. Aire Valley Area Action Plan Consultation

5. NHS Leeds – Lung Cancer Campaign

6. Waste Treatment Facility update

7. Area Issues
• Selective Licensing
• East North East Homes

8. Area Committee Report

9. Any Other Business

10. Date and Time of Next Meeting

Minutes of last Richmond Hill Forum


Thursday, 24 February 2011

This Green is against it too


As I resigned as Chair of Cabinet and an Executive Member over the issue of the incinerator you can be assured that I oppose both the incinerator and any PFI contract to fund one.

Best regards

Cllr David Blackburn

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Another response from a councillor





I was not aware that there was to be a Municpal Incinerator in Richmond Hill. Please could you provide the evidence that this is now to be the case.
My understanding is that the proposal is for another one to be built near to existing ones in Cross Green.

As to the rest of your quesions. It is a question of how much residual waste is to be incinerated when all other options have been exhausted. I am in favour of recycling as much as is possible first. I would not be in favour of incinerating any more than is absoultely necessary.

Without the full picture it is not possible to make a commitment.

kind regards

Cllr Ryk Downes
Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader
Otley & Yeadon Ward.
____________________________________________________________________________
We find this reply extremely puzzling since the two sites remaining in the bidding process for the Waste Treatment Plant to be built by PFI credits which has been ongoing since 2005 will, according to the council's own consultation papers, be at either the Old Wholesale Market Site at Cross Green which in the Richmond Hill Ward and the Knostrop Filter Beds Site which, we have always believed, is in our Ward too depending on the winning bidder, we have made this assertion at most of the Richmond Hill Forums since 2007 and the 2 Public Meetings which we arranged without being corrected so we are not sure why this is being said now.

We are disturbed that according to figures supplied in response to our Freedom of Information request for costings on this project that from 2005 to April 2009 almost £1M was spent on this project, £10,000 of that on councillor visits to view different technologies and sites before councillors short listed the final two bidders, both of whom propose an Incinerator, but the details of this very important and expensive project do not seem to be very well known.

We await further clarification from Councillor Brett on whether the 2 sites are in the Richmond Hill ward or not.

The First Councillor Responds


Cllr John Illingworth, Labour, Kirstall Ward has written a very concise and well argued piece on incineration below:

When this comes to a vote in Council, and assuming that I am still a councillor, then I shall vote with the Labour Group. When people join a political party it is a package deal, and only occasionally can we cherry pick the policies we like. Some people pretend otherwise, but I prefer to tell the truth.

Before we get to that stage there will be a political debate, and here is the position that I shall argue:

1) Incineration is a confession of failure. It implies that we have given up on recycling, re-use and waste minimisation, and that we really can’t think of anything else to do with the stuff. I am particularly worried about agreements that tie us into fixed tonnages of waste to be burned, since this removes all incentive to do better.

2) I am not keen on landfill. Except for builders’ rubble and inert minerals, landfill is a toxic present to our children, which will leach heavy metals and belch methane for hundreds of years. It is also increasingly expensive. If we excavate existing mixed landfill sites, can we re-claim the landfill tax at the current rate?

3) For food (putrescible) waste, my preferred solution is to macerate and flush it down the sewers, followed by anaerobic digestion (to generate methane and soil improver) at the sewage plant. To work well, this means moving from a combined sewage system to a system that separates rain water from foul waste. I would like to do this. It would be expensive, but it would hugely improve river ecology and it would create a large number of manual construction jobs. There may be a need for these in the immediate future. I think this option would use less energy in the longer term than trying to separate and collect putrescible solid waste on a short collection cycle.

4) Clean dry metals, plastics, clothing and paper can all be recycled. We must expand the range of goods we accept, and our ability to handle mixed products to the point where all our clean and harmless waste goes in the green bin. Tetra Pak drinks containers are a real challenge, and I am not sure what to do with worn-out shoes. Residents should not need to examine pizza bases to see whether the plastic is a “5” or a “4” or a “3”…

5) Leeds could compost garden waste centrally, although we do ours locally, and spread it on our garden and allotments. We put all manner of stuff on our compost heap which supports significant livestock. Our cats kill the rodents and the magpies and crows eat the bodies. It is all part of nature’s recycling scheme.

6) For a small part of the waste stream (infected clinical waste, used incontinence pads and the like) incineration may be the only realistic option. I am unable to suggest a better solution for wet and dirty plastic bags. There comes a point where the stuff is so far gone that there may be no practical alternative. I don’t like incinerators close to housing, and a pelleted waste solution could allow the residual waste to be burned some distance away. I don’t like PFI – waste of money. This should be funded by a bond issue backed by land value taxation.

We would like to thank him for this contribution which we hope will draw sensible comment and opinion from a broad spectrum of opinion.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Lib Dem Councillor has change of heart!

We understand that Cllr Richard Brett who has previously backed the PFI incinerator project in his Richmond Hill Ward, he says reluctantly, for the last 5 years has now had a huge change of heart.

He has now come to the same conclusions we reached 5 years ago - that whilst landfill cannot continue as it is, incineration is most certainly NOT the way to go. He points out, as we have always said, that more and more recycling is becoming a much more desirable and economically viable option reducing any remaining waste to a very small and uncertain amount.

He also points out, as we pointed out to him at several meetings, that to sign up to a 25 year long PFI contract would be a very risky thing to do when we do not know what the future holds in terms of how much, and what kind of waste there is going to be.

This is heart-warming stuff, in fact we could almost have written it ourselves, oh hold on a minute - we did write it ourselves - on several Blog posts over the last year or so....

However the important thing now is that the councillor has, however belatedly, seen the light. We need to convince the rest of the council to do the same and point out that a decision to go ahead with this project would be disastrous both for the future of the city and its Council Tax payers.

I urge everyone to find out what their own councillor's opinions are on this very important matter and write to them and urge them not to go down this dead end path.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Sign the On Line petition against incinerator

Please click on the link below and if you agree sign the petition against an incinerator. Please tell your friends and family too. This is no time to sit on the fence it is our and our children's future we are fighting for!

Sign the petition here

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Lib Dems, the Incinerator and the 'Facts'

Contained in the latest propaganda offering from the Lib Dems to drop through our letterboxes is a little gem entitled Campaigning against Labour's incinerator plans with the sub title Don't trust Labour on the Incinerator!

It contains 3 so called 'facts'

'Fact' 1 Before last year's Local Elections Labour campaigned AGAINST an incinerator on Cross Green

'Fact' 2 Now the new Labour Council are pushing forward with plans FOR an incinerator at Cross Green

'Fact' 3 Only the Lib Dems will fight the Cross Green Incinerator - Labour just say one thing but do another

The bare faced hypocrisy of the last 'fact' quite frankly leaves us speechless considering most of the decisions taken by their party leadership since joining the coalition!

However here are some other facts on the incinerator

Fact 1 This programme was initiated in 2005 by the Lib Dems/Conservative coalition running Leeds. All FOUR of the sites considered were in Richmond Hill, much to the anger of local residents made very plain at numerous Richmond Hill Forum meetings and Cllr Brett was on the committee overseeing this process.

Fact 2 NO2Incinerator discovered, through a Freedom of Information request, that the Lib Dems/Conservative coalition, in which Cllr Brett occupied the position of either Deputy Council Leader or Council Leader, had spent at least a truly staggering £954,463,000 from 2005 up to April 2010 in preparation for the incinerator, though we suspect that the costs might actually be much higher.

Fact 3 The Labour councillors who stated their opposition to the building of yet another incinerator in our area still, as far as we are aware, hold that opinion. The council has, far from pushing forward with an incinerator at Cross Green, not yet come to a final decision on the matter.

This is a very important matter for the residents of this area and the city as a whole, with widespread and possibly serious consequences for the those living here and we do not appreciate it being used as a political football by parties in the upcoming election, but if you are going to put out these 'facts' at least make sure that they are true and complete.

Labour did not start this process - the Lib Dems/Cons did, Labour did not keep it going incurring costs of nearly £1million - the Lib Dems/Cons did, and Labour are not now trying to pretend that the whole thing never ever had anything to do with them - the Lib Dems are.

We, the electorate, expect and certainly deserve to be treated better by those who seek to represent us. Behaviour like this is why politicians are held in such low esteem by the rest of us.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

PFI - Can We Afford It?


Those of you who read this Blog regularly you will know that, quite apart from our sincere misgivings about the long term safety of the incineration process in general and the negative impact this project will have on our area’s health and chances of regeneration, we are also deeply sceptical of the PFI process which is how Leeds City Council proposes to pay for their facility. The new Municipal Waste Treatment Plant PFI contact will run over a 25-30 year period.

As we have highlighted previously, there are many very well documented problems with other PFI projects around the country and it seems that as more and more are coming under close scrutiny they are failing to measuring up to the golden promise they once seemed to offer.

The Daily Telegraph is the latest newspaper to run an article by Andrew Gilligan on PFI contracts affecting schools, an earlier article in the Guardian by George Monbiot dealt with schools and hospitals – but across the board many of the conclusions are the same, even the influential Commons public accounts committee; warns of the danger these contracts can pose if not carefully monitored, and whilst private companies, by and large, seen do very well out of these types of deals that cannot always be said for the rest of us who it seems do not always get either value for money or a solution to its problems.

At first glance this PFI contract seems like a very good deal for the residents of Leeds. After all we get a new Waste Treatment Plant without having to pay up front. On closer inspection however it becomes apparent that this lifebelt is, in this case, made of concrete not foam. We have to commit to a long term contract lasting between 25-30 years, without knowing exactly how much waste and what kind there will be to process over that period of time.

The world is finally starting to wake up to the effects of our profligate lifestyle on the planet and its long term consequences for all of us: It seems more and more likely that measures taken by individual residents themselves; government and council initiatives to pressure big business; together with better education on this subject will reduce large amounts of the present waste stream over the next few years. No one is suggesting however that all waste will be eliminated, it won’t be but as more and more of the world’s scarce resources become financially viable for recycling it could reduce very substantially.

We the residents of Leeds however, once committed to this contract, will have to pay and keep on paying, even if we are not using this facility to its full capacity, thereby making it less efficient and economical to run, or indeed even if we are not using it at all because it has been superseded by improved technology, by no means an unreasonable suggestion given the time scales proposed and the pace at which technological innovation is moving, driven on as it is by commercial pressures to find ever more efficient and more cost effective methods of dealing with this problem.

For the lucky winner of our PFI contract it will be a win, win situation - unfortunately for the Council Tax payers of Leeds it may very well prove to be a costly and losing proposition, not only for those around today but for their children and possibly their grandchildren.