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.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Friends of the Earth Response to Cllr Brett

Dear Richard,

Your comments have been passed onto me to respond. Sorry it has taken me
so long to do this.

Although you are factually correct that much of the ash from the Sheffield
incinerator is used this is because at the present moment in time there is
a market for it. Are you confident that this market will remain for the
next 25 years or the lifetime of the incinerator? We are not.

The toxic element of the ash only goes to prove that incinerators do not
solve the problem they concentrate it.
Would you be comfortable living in an area in the knowledge that lorries
passing your house contain this concentrated toxic material? We are not.

In order to take out the toxic materials the filtration systems at
incinerators have to be working perfectly all the time. Are you confident
that this will be the case over 25 years or the lifetime of the
incinerator? We are not.

Veolia run the Sheffield plant. They are a French multi national company
who have a poor accident record, a poor safety record and have also shown
to manage their plants inadequately when it comes to ensuring pollutants do
not exceed EU limits. They are also widely criticized for investing heavily
in the occupied West Bank in Israel/Palestine.

In short incineration is a high risk strategy operated by massive
companies who care about profits not people and in practice have held
Councils over a barrel when it comes to negotiating changes to contracts
when circumstances change.

I hope this makes you reconsider.

Best Regards

David Fanaroff
Leeds Friends of the Earth and NIL

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Right, onward and upward!

Here are some of the founding members of the NO2Incinerator campaign team at one of our regular meetings at the Hope Inn on York Road where we are always sure of a very warm welcome from the landlord and his staff.

We meet regularly to share information and ideas for the campaign and to work out our strategy for the next few weeks.

Our meetings are advertised on our Blog and all are welcome to come along and offer ideas and support.

We will be posting details of our next meeting within the next few days and hope to see as many of you as possible there.

Biffa, despite assuring us that they were ready to put in their planning application have so far failed to do so, a situation that surely cannot last much longer. The city council also are still intent on having their incinerator in our ward, but again no further exact details are available at the moment.

We will keep everyone updated on developments and in the meantime the fight will go on, we don't really have a choice about that if we don't want to become the incinerator quarter of Leeds.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

A new year and the fight goes on.

Firstly, the NO2Incinerator campaign and Friends of the Earth Leeds would like to thank our councillors for their interest in our Advent Calendar 2010.

Only one councillor told us not to send the calendar to him as he already knew the facts we were trying to highlight. This councillor has stated he would be willing to talk to us and we are going to arrange a meeting soon to talk to him and we will publish the results of that meeting here.

Cllr Brett, Burmantofts & Richmond Hill, also sent us his thoughts and comments on some of the items in the calendar and these have been published here.

Now we are planning our next moves in this vital campaign so please watch this space for breaking news.........