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.