North London Waste Authority’s newsletter is ‘cynical attempt to hoodwink local residents’, 25/5/2011
Earlier this month the NLWA sent a newsletter to 18,000 homes in Enfield, Barnet and Haringey, ostensibly to correct any ‘misunderstanding’ about its intended plans for a 300,000 tonne a year waste treatment plant on the site of Pinkham Wood, on the Colney Hatch Lane/North Circular road junction.
Far from easing people’s fears, it has made them angry and fearful for their future wellbeing because of its lack of transparency and patronising tone.
The NLWA bought the land at Pinkham Way in 2009, but it was only in February of this year, nearly two and a half years later, that local people first heard about their plans, which if carried out, will be a catastrophe for residents and businesses in the Friern Barnet/Muswell Hill area and beyond.
Chair of the Pinkham Way Alliance Bidesh Sarkar said:
‘The NLWA has constantly said that we misunderstand what they are doing. The problem is we know all too well what they are up to, and we are not going to stand for it.
Their latest missive has infuriated people by showing a timeline of previous ‘opportunities’ when local people could have had their say, dating back to March 2008. Well, as far as we can tell, Pinkham Wood didn’t appear on anybody’s’ list of potential sites until well after that date, so how could we have been consulted about it? The first any of us knew about this dangerous plan was in February, when there was an exhibition at a local school, which was a complete bolt from the blue.
The Pinkham Way Alliance is mobilising local people to fight this scheme so that we can save our way of life for our children and their children.’
Among the misleading information in the NLWA’s newsletter listed by Mr Sarkar are:
- Continuing insistence on euphemistically calling the proposed chimney a ‘stack’. It’s not a ‘stack’, it’s a chimney that could be 150 or more feet tall (46 to 53m). That is the same size as a large electricity pylon. Why is the NLWA planning a chimney? Because of the smells and the gases NLWA knows it will emit. There are around 10,000 homes within a one kilometre radius of Pinkham Wood.
- Failure to answer the question about whether the proposed site, at 300,000 tonnes a year, will be one of the biggest in Europe. A recent Freedom of Information Act request by the Pinkham Way Alliance has forced the NLWA to concede that there are only two bigger sites in Europe – one in Leyland, Lancashire (marginally bigger at 305,000 tonnes), the other in Madrid (480,000 tonnes). Residents near the (Farington) Leyland site have been complaining for months about the stench coming from the site. (Two bigger sites have been granted planning permissions in the UK – but they are in the middle of a 25 hectare disused airfield in Rivenhall in Essex.)
- The NLWA’s traffic chart looks nonsensical. Suggesting that the vehicular traffic coming into the site neatly coincides with ‘quiet times’ on the North Circular road looks just too convenient to believe. Who will be able to enforce this – certainly not the local residents! What is to stop more vehicles coming during rush hour – which lasts for about three hours at each end of the working day – or during the middle of the night?
- The NLWA told the Pinkham Way Alliance that vehicles from four boroughs would be using the site, but the newsletter only mentions Barnet, Enfield and Haringey – there is no mention of (west) Camden.
- The notion that the site is ‘not accessed through residential roads’ is farcical. Are these lorries going to fly into the site? Aren’t Colney Hatch Lane and Bounds Green Road residential roads? Or don’t people who live in houses and flats count as residents in the NLWA’s book?
- The ‘illustrative landscape map’ provided gives no indication of the sheer bulk of the planned building. It will cover an area as big as two football pitches and be 75ft (23m) high. That’s a massive building the height of a six or seven storey block of flats.
- A précis of the NLWA’s answer to its own question ‘Will the site be operational day and night, every day of the week?’ is YES IT WILL.
- The NLWA expects us to believe that there will be no noise or smells because ‘all waste handling and treatment will be within the buildings’. The doors of these buildings will be opened at least 668 times a day to let the lorries in and out. How will these magic doors prevent the odour and noise escaping?
- Apparently there will be ‘a number of features that will help the site’s ecological value’ and ‘many trees will be retained’. The site at Pinkham Way is a mature woodland. The newsletter makes it sound as though levelling the wood, filling it with concrete and putting a large-scale waste treatment plant on top of it will improve the site’s ecological value.
- The NLWA are going to be offering a 25 to 30 year contract for this site. Who is to say what they might do at the site once the contract is signed and the plant is up and running?
- The NLWA is keen to set out its green credentials, but the mechanical and biological treatment plant that they have planned will provide fuel for incineration for 30 years to come – not very green at all.
- ‘Only a small quantity of methane will be stored on site.’ How small? Big enough to blow up the building if there is an accident or fire? This site is on the North Circular Road and borders the East Coast mainline railway track. At any one time it will be a repository for hundreds of tonnes of combustible waste and petroleum-based fuel for vehicles. Mechanical and biological treatment plants have been known to catch fire or even explode – Look at what’s happened in just the past seven months! See the internet for fires at waste plants in Thirsk, Yorkshire (05.05.2011), Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea (09.02.2011) and Burscough, Ormskirk (13.10.2010).
Locals enraged over waste plant plans: Pinkham Way Alliance meets with waste authority, 9/5/2011
In recent weeks representatives of the Pinkham Way Alliance have communicated with thousands of people from Barnet, Haringey and Enfield, about plans to build a 300,000 tonne waste treatment plant on Pinkham Wood, at the junction of the North Circular road at Pinkham Way and Colney Hatch Lane.
At awareness raising stalls set up on Muswell Hill Broadway, Alexandra Farmers’ Market and the Tesco superstore in Friern Barnet, the overwhelming response from residents has been shock and anger.
Pinkham Way Alliance chair Bidesh Sarkar said: ‘There is a widespread feeling that we have been ignored and people are furious that this plant is being planned in the heart of our community.
‘Despite claims that we have been consulted about the proposals, most people are only now hearing about it for the first time. They cannot understand how public servants can have progressed these plans away from the public eye.
‘The development of a scheme of this size would devastate the quality of local life for decades to come. No wonder people are telling us that they are angry as hell and that they will do everything in their power to stop it happening.’
To find out exactly what is planned for the Pinkham Wood site, representatives from the Pinkham Way Alliance have started holding a series of meetings with senior staff from the North London Waste Authority (NLWA), including its chief executive David Beadle.
Mr Sarkar said: ‘We have been told by the NLWA that we ‘misunderstand’ what is planned. We want to use our meetings with them to find out the truth about what they want to build right on our doorstep: the boundary of the site is just 85 metres from the nearest homes.
‘After our first meeting we can now confirm that they really are planning for there to be 1,120 vehicle trips a day, that’s 560 vehicles in and 560 vehicles out. Most of these vehicles will be lorries - 670 trips, 335 in and 335 out, every day - with payloads of between eight and 24 tonnes. Just so you understand what this means, a lorry with an eight tonne payload is one of those great big trucks that collects the bins, and a 24 tonne truck is as big as the lorries used by Tesco.
‘Staff from the NLWA have also confirmed that the 300,000 tonnes of waste they plan to treat on the site each year will be coming from all directions, from the boroughs of Barnet, Enfield, Haringey and Camden, and, when asked about air quality, they confirmed that there will be an increase in air pollution in the area.’
Worryingly although the NLWA’s plans for a waste treatment plant at Pinkham Wood are due to go to Haringey Council’s planning committee by the end of this month, it is only publishing the final version of its waste plan for North London this week: the overall plan is not due to be approved until a public hearing in early 2012.
Local resident Colin Parish, a member of the Pinkham Way Alliance who lives about 400 metres from the proposed site, said: ‘It is perverse that the outline planning application is going in to Haringey this month, but the overall plan into which it is supposed to fit is only now going out for public consultation. How can this be right?
‘The proposed waste treatment plant is too big and it should not be built in a residential area. If you want to see where waste treatment plants should be situated – miles away from anyone’s home, school or business – take a look at the Donarbon waste plant in Cambridgeshire (go online to Google maps and look at postcode CB25 9PG in satellite view). That plant is in the middle of nowhere and it is cleaner than the proposed plant at Pinkham Wood because the waste is more thoroughly sorted and recycled, and it doesn’t produce any fuel for incineration.’
Residents condemn Barnet Council’s decision to ratify north London Waste Plan, 13/4/2011
More than 300 angry north London residents protested outside Barnet Town Hall last night (Tuesday April 12) to show their disgust about plans to build one of Europe’s biggest waste disposal plants built in the middle of a residential area at one of the busiest junctions on the North Circular Road (Colney Hatch Lane).
The majority of councillors voted to approve the scheme, effectively dumping the problem on to neighbouring Haringey, where a planning application is expected to be made by the North London Waste Authority in May.
Despite the presence of approximately 150 members of the public inside the town hall at the start of the meeting at 7.00pm and another 150-plus outside waiting to hear the council’s decision, the councillors refused to move the item up the agenda and the decision was not made until after 10.00pm, by which time most people, adults and children, had gone home.
Local resident Colin Parish, who waited more than three hours to hear a cursory discussion about the decision, said council members were clearly intent on denying people the opportunity to see local democracy at work.
‘It was shameful. They knew why we were there but they ignored councillor Rawlings’s plea for this to be dealt with earlier in the meeting. They were obviously ruffled to see the strength of feeling about this crazy scheme and too embarrassed to let people see them make this decision.
‘This was one of the biggest decisions the council has had to make in years and there was no debate. Councillor Rawlings brought up the fact that the people living nearest to the site in Muswell Hill and Friern Barnet had even not been consulted, but people living ten miles away in Potters Bar had. He was ignored.
‘Now we face a situation where Barnet councillors, along with those in Islington, Enfield, Camden, Hackney and Waltham Forest, have smugly washed their hands of the problem and dumped it on to their colleagues in neighbouring Haringey who will have to make the planning decision. If the plans are approved the people of Haringey, and those of us in Barnet and Enfield who live close to the site, will have the privilege of having at least 300,000 tonnes of waste each year trucked in and churned up in a 23 metre high building on our doorsteps.
‘In addition, Haringey will get the benefit of having all of Barnet’s waste trucks, road cleaning vehicles and minibuses on its land, while Barnet council gets to pocket 12 million quid for the Pinkham Way site and removes its own dump-truck and vehicle depot into a neighbouring borough. It will then be able to sell the current depot site in Mill Hill to developers for millions to build 2,500 dwellings and increase its council tax yield by more than £3 million a year.
‘There is a real democratic deficit here, and it stinks.’
Chair of the Pinkham Way Alliance Bidesh Sharkar said: ‘We will continue to fight this disastrous scheme. The councillors’ high-handed approach to their constituents will only encourage more local people to get involved with our campaign and increase their determination to defeat this proposal.
‘London needs truly local solutions to the problem of waste management, not a massive factory close to schools and 10,000 homes that will blight the lives of local people, increase already high levels of pollution and bring the road system in north London to a grinding halt.’
Lobby of Barnet councillors tonight ahead of meeting to decide future of waste plant, 12/4/2011
Photo opportunity April 12, 6.30pm, Town Hall, Hendon
Angry north London residents will turn out in force tonight (Tuesday) to renew their efforts to stop the building of one of Europe’s biggest waste disposal plants in the middle of their communities.
They will demonstrate outside Barnet Town Hall in The Burroughs, Hendon, as the north London local authority’s 63 councillors gather for a full council meeting, during which a final decision on whether to go ahead with the plant will be taken.
The residents have received support from Chipping Barnet Tory MP and transport minister Theresa Villiers, who has told one residents’ association that she is opposed to the plant. Hornsey and Wood Green Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone has also expressed concerns about the plant, which if built will sit astride the boundary between the two neighbouring constituencies.
The North London Waste Authority wants to build the plant alongside one of the busiest stretches of the North Circular Road between Bounds Green and Friern Barnet. It will deal annually with more than 300,000 tonnes of rubbish drawn from the seven boroughs that run the NLWA.
But unlike similar plants across Europe and elsewhere in Britain, the proposed site – bought by the NLWA for £12 million from Barnet Council – is in the middle of an area of 10,000 homes and seven schools within a one kilometre radius. In Europe, such plants are built away from built up areas. A similar plant on Frog Island, in Dagenham, is 1.4 kilometres from the nearest homes.
The plant will work every day of the year and traffic experts are predicting that if built, it will be responsible for more than 1,000 heavy truck movements a day.
Bidesh Sarkar, chair of the Pinkham Way Alliance, the main opposition group, said: “We fear residents in the immediate vicinity and the surrounding areas will suffer from the pollution and noise caused by this huge movement of big vehicles, on top of any toxic emissions that come out of the plant itself. We have serious concerns that there will also be vibration damage to the foundations of homes along the routes, as well as roads and sewers underneath with so many heavy vehicles using roads that were not designed to take that kind of punishment. If the government can listen to public opinion and think again about its plans for the NHS, the NLWA and the seven boroughs should listen to the fears and genuine concerns of the thousands of people whose health and wellbeing could be seriously affected by this plant.”
Residents have accused the NLWA of carrying out a cursory consultation that many of them were unaware of and that the project is being steam-rollered through on the nod.
Residents lobby Barnet Council cabinet to stop north London waste plant, 28/3/2011
North London residents will lobby Barnet Council cabinet members next Tuesday (March 29) over plans to build a waste recycling site on the North Circular at Muswell Hill/Friern Barnet.
A decision is due to be made at the cabinet meeting to approve the North London Waste Plan, which includes the building of a 150m long, 23m high recycling plant (plus chimney) within 250m of the nearest dwellings. We have many major concerns about these plans, including massive traffic congestion from 1,200 vehicle movements a day, most of which will be trucks, increased pollution, and the loss of an important green space.
Photo opportunity: Tuesday March 29 6.45pm The Town Hall, The Burroughs, Hendon, NW4 4BG.
Residents and children will protest outside the town hall, while a representative of the Pinkham Way Alliance will ask cabinet members about the impact of the scheme on local people.
Interviews: Representatives of the Pinkham Way Alliance and other local residents will be available for interviews.
Residents unite to stop north London waste plant, 24/3/2011
Residents in Barnet and Haringey have united to fight plans to build a massive waste recycling plant next to a residential area on the busiest section of the A406 North Circular Road (Pinkham Way - north of Muswell Hill).
The plans, which go before Haringey Council in May, would see a 23m high building (75 feet) covering an area the size of two football pitches, built within 250m of the nearest dwellings.
If the plans go ahead there would be an additional 1,200 vehicle movements through the Colney Hatch Lane/A406 junction each day (two trucks a minute, ten hours a day) adding to the already intolerable traffic congestion in Muswell Hill, Friern Barnet and the surrounding areas.
Bidesh Sarkar, chair of the Pinkham Way Alliance, said if the plan goes ahead residents would suffer as a result of the extra traffic and air and noise pollution. That would lead to a severe reduction in their general quality of life.
‘We are determined to stop this plan in its tracks,’ Mr Sarkar said. ‘We know that the north London boroughs have to deal with their waste, but this is the wrong solution in the wrong place.’
The former industrial site earmarked for the development has been untouched since the 1960s and has become a refuge for bats and other flora and fauna. In 1988 Barnet and Haringey councils designated it as public open space and established some of it for nature conservation.
Barnet Council is planning to railroad through its decisions on the plans at a council meeting next Tuesday (March 29). Mr Sarkar said: ‘Barnet has been trying to sell off this land for 40 years. It stands to gain millions for a site that would otherwise be worthless: but they don’t realise that for us, it's priceless. We intend to be at the council meeting to ensure our voice is heard.'
‘This plant would be the biggest of its kind in the UK, and it would result in massive disruption in our lives and the lives of our children. All of the similar plants in Europe are built far away from of towns and cities where they do not disrupt the lives of ordinary citizens.
‘Our human rights would be violated if this huge, ugly building, with all its attendant traffic, noise and pollution, were built on our doorsteps. We urge Barnet, Enfield and Haringey councils, and the four other north London boroughs involved in this madcap scheme, to think again. They must come up with something more sensible that will be better for the environment, better for local council tax payers and voters, and better for London as a whole.’