Voting to replace the Edmonton Incinerator with a massive new one is the big test of how much the Labour Party in north London care about the environment. Local councilors in 7 boroughs (only Barnet is Conservative) are due to agree the plans this Thursday that will: impose a massive health hazard on local people; make climate change worse and ensure that these councils remain amongst the worse at recycling in England.
With local elections happening in May, these councilors must be aware that the new incinerator will damage their prospects of being re-elected, as it provides a crystal clear dividing line with the Green Party’s long term opposition to these polluting towers.
Yesterday, A report by the all-party parliamentary group on air pollution says expansions should be halted immediately to protect human health and cut carbon emissions. Ultrafine particles released by incineration at scale constitute a significant health hazard. The MPs heard from an oncologist who found heavy metals in toenails of children living near incinerators and highlighted link with acute childhood leukaemia.
My own report about London recycling rates in 2012 showed clear evidence that incineration stops the growth of recycling. That is why all 7 of these London boroughs are in the bottom fifth of local authority recycling rates. In fact, Camden, Haringey, Islington and Hackney are all in the bottom 40 worse recyclers and this new incinerator will condemn them to staying that way.
Campaigners have highlighted comments by the CEO of the company that’s due to build the incinerator that it is “massively oversized”. That means it will be burning material that should be recycled in order to feed it and that means more CO2 emissions. Given that we are meant to be moving towards net zero emissions by 2050, why are we building an incinerator that will be pumping out greenhouse gases beyond 2050? It makes a mockery of councillors in Hackney and Islington declaring a climate emergency and is sheer hypocrisy when they committed to doing everything to reach net zero.
Haringey council has called for a review of the decision and it still hangs in the balance. Make some noise and remind everyone that local elections are only five months away.