'Why I am requesting a legal challenge against the incinerator'

memorial walk along Harvil Road

A memorial walk along Harvil Road where once there were trees - Credit: Dorothea Hackman

There’s a move to sell “green bonds” to fund the Edmonton Incinerator rebuild.

These are not environmentally sound, and energy from waste incinerators is explicitly excluded from this type of loan under UK sustainable finance due to the high financial risk. If we achieve 65% recycling, then the new Edmonton Incinerator will be 35% over capacity. This was raised in the All Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution on Wednesday, noting also that the government has already issued 50 more permissions for incinerators, so some developers see them as lucrative.

The North London Waste Authority has contacted Acciona to build its oversized replacement for the Edmonton Incinerator. I am challenging this legally which can only be done if procedure hasn’t been followed, a judicial review is not about the value of the proposal. However it does look as if the board was not fully informed before they took the decision, about any plan for carbon capture and the extent of carbon emissions, and pre-sorting and environmental responsibility. So unless the NLWA wriggles out of accountability through a procedural loophole, we can get them to reconsider.

Dorothea Hackman continues to fight against the Edmonton incinerator.

Dorothea Hackman is challenging the Edmonton Incinerator rebuild - Credit: Archant

You know the issues, we are failing to act in line with our own declarations of climate emergency:

  • Incinerators are built in areas of high deprivation with emissions and particulates impacting on the health and amenity of residents. The Equalities Impact Assessments aren’t available, meaning we have race and class discrimination.
  • We need to repair, reuse and recycle. Our recycling in Camden is shamefully below 30% and all targets, typical for boroughs with an incinerator that needs feeding, so we end up burning plastic for heat and energy. We need a pre-sorting facility, not a bigger incinerator.
  • We already have overcapacity of incinerators in London and in the UK so residual waste after recycling is more than catered for. The projected increasing need of 2015 that justified a bigger incinerator back in 2017 hasn’t happened. Waste will have to be imported to feed the incinerator.
  • Incinerators now must have planning for carbon capture and storage to comply with new legislation as well as the targets for the climate and ecological emergency. It was erroneously suggested to the board that this was in hand, so the rebuilt incinerator will have to reduce and shut down, making it a stranded asset that still has to be paid for. The boroughs have not published their due diligence.

It really is essential that we leave fossil fuels in the ground and stop construction and manufacturing plastic. This might give us a chance of at least containing the global temperature rise – but we will still need to back down on carbon emissions if we are to contain the damage we are inflicting on our grandchildren. How can we be investing and exploring for more oil? Shame on us for setting off sonic booms every 10 seconds off the coast of South Africa distressing the whales we fought so hard to save 50 years ago. So there was again demonstrating at the Shell building.

What do we actually think is going to happen to the Pacific Island states, the Caribbean and Bangladesh when the sea levels rise? We can plan now in the global north to receive refugees in their millions, but our own government is acting to prevent people coming here, criminalising asylum seekers and anyone who rescues them alike in the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is currently in the House of Lords though there is a lull over half term week.

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Worse still the government is planning to deport up to 6 million of us if we have parents and grandparents born outside the UK. Presumably this is so the remaining 90% will have a greater share of the resources in the event of societal collapse, but it is an appalling way to treat citizens.

Meanwhile High Speed 2 has started pile driving into the Colne Valley chalk aquifer, risking Affinity Water’s supply to millions of Londoners. We held a memorial walk along Harvil Road last Saturday where once there were trees.

Dorothea Hackman is chair of the Camden Civic Society.