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.