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.