Edmonton Incinerator: Camden duo join council tax strike
- Credit: Claire Grogan / Nicole Verity
Two Camden residents have joined others withholding a portion of their council tax in protest over the redevelopment of the Edmonton Incinerator.
The contract for the new incinerator was signed between the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) and the infrastructure and renewable company Acciona on January 24, though it had been the subject of numerous demonstrations and objections.
Critics argue that the new £1.2 billion development will have far-reaching environmental consequences, with estimates it will be capable of emitting 700,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from 700,00 tonnes of waste.
The NLWA, which is comprised of representatives from seven north London councils – Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest – however claims the project will not only provide hundreds of jobs and generate enough electricity for 127,000 homes, but will also contribute particulate levels well below the limits of detection.
By comparison, it says that transport emissions in Enfield are typically responsible for up to 29.6% of the particulates.
Nicole Verity, a psychotherapist based in Parliament Hill, and actor Danny Scheinmann, who lives in Swains Lane, joined the campaign in January after becoming aware of it in December.
Nicole says that there are a number of reasons behind her decision to protest in this manner, including the impact she says the new development will have on the environment, and the duty adults today have to protect the futures of young people.
It is crucial, she says, to consider “the future of children, the young people. We’re not acting on behalf of the young people sufficiently enough to give them a future at the moment”.
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Both Nicole and Danny raise the concern of the location of the incinerator in a poor part of Edmonton.
Danny believes the site is “convenient” for the central north London boroughs, including Camden.
He asks: “If this was to happen in Hampstead, could you imagine? Would Camden allow this to happen if this was to happen near Hampstead Heath or Highgate?”
The pair argue that instead of the redevelopment, there should be a greater focus on improving north London’s low recycling rates and investing in other methods to combat climate change.
Danny said: “What we should be focussing our energy on is better recycling, better re-use and a more circular economy.”
Both are withholding what they believe is a sum representative of the amount of their tax that goes towards waste, rather than their whole tax.
Danny said this is because “the council has many important other services that it needs to run, which we totally recognise”.
Nicole said she appreciates the “privileged position” she is in of being able to protest in this way, acknowledging that “it’s not an option that everybody can take”.
Cllr Richard Olszewski, cabinet member for finance and transformation at Camden Council, said: “There are many democratic means by which residents can give us their opinions and influence decisions – but withholding payment of council tax is breaking the law.
“Council tax helps fund a range of vital support in Camden – including adult social care, housing and environmental services. We have thousands of residents who are depending on this support as we enter a really difficult period – a costs of living crisis on top of Covid-19’s impacts on jobs and earnings.
“All that performative non-payment of council tax will do is undermine the funding we need to provide these lifeline services.”
NLWA chair Cllr Clyde Loakes said that on top of the jobs, apprenticeships and training placements, the new facility will have have “the most advanced cleaning technology in the world, ensuring cleaner air for north London’s residents".
He added: “It is the most environmentally responsible way of disposing of waste that can’t be recycled. Our new facility will supply low-carbon heat and power for up to 127,000 homes – critical at a time when we're all bracing for extreme price rises just to heat our homes.
“In terms of volumes of waste coming from Camden, as the new facility does not need to be full to operate, if and when waste is reduced it can operate at lower tonnages.
“London, however, has a colossal waste crisis, with the equivalent of 67 double-decker buses of waste chucked away every single hour. The UK government and businesses must wake up to the link between unsustainable consumption and the Climate Emergency. We need more unecological items to be banned, especially single-use plastics, among a whole range of measures.”