Resistance is mounting over this billion-pound incinerator project
Residents of Edmonton, London are fighting back against dirty air and environmental inequality.
Londoners may have heard a particularly dystopian warning on the tube and in the news this week. The Mayor of London issued a high pollution alert for Tuesday to Thursday this week, commenting:
“Toxic air is extremely dangerous for Londoners - and I'm doing everything in my power to tackle it.
“This is particularly important in order to protect those who are more vulnerable to high pollution."
London’s toxic air led to 1, 700 asthma hospitalisations during the 2017-19 period. And indeed, Sadiq Khan has made dealing with air pollution a key feature of his tenure as mayor.
However, several very polluting projects are unfolding under his watch. One of these is the Silvertown Tunnel, which we covered last year. As reported in gal-dem, hundreds recently protested against the £2.2B, 1.4km, four-lane tunnel, which is set to be built in the Newham area of London. Newham is the most polluted borough in the UK.
Another, less high-profile one is the redevelopment of the Edmonton Incinerator. The North London Waste Authority is hoping to build a new, larger incinerator on the site, which has been operating for around 50 years. It’s suggested that this would emit 700,000 tonnes of CO2 via the burning 700,000 tonnes of waste, per year, for decades – in a particularly diverse and deprived area of London.
On Tuesday, Iain Duncan Smith MP tweeted to say he’d written to Michael Gove, secretary of state for Levelling Up, regarding the plans. His letter reads:
‘I believe this is a case of serious mismanagement of public funds, with grave consequences for public health and the environment, in a time when we are being advised to move away from methods of waste disposal with high carbon emissions such as incineration.
The proposals are also almost universally opposed by local residents.’
Duncan Smith’s letter is the latest development in what has been a loud and proud resistance campaign. Spearheaded by these local residents, Stop the Edmonton Incinerator has co-ordinated innovative direct action.
Last month, the group’s spokesperson Sarah Eastwood went to court for withholding council tax. She is, according to the most recent announcement, one of 32 people across 7 London boroughs refusing to pay the sum anticipated to go towards the incinerator.
The organisation is also encouraging people to fill out this survey into rubbish and recycling in North London, to paint a better picture of the extent of opposition.
The results are set to be published ahead of the UK local elections on May 5th. It is hoped that it will provide a people’s mandate for councillors to supercharge recycling, reuse and composting – and reduce incineration.
The NWLA maintains the Incinerator is ‘the best environmental, technical, and economic solution to the treatment of waste in north London’. Construction work is set to begin this year.