Is this the last chance to stop the incinerator?

With just days before the final contract is signed, campaigners will march through the streets

Friday, 14th January — By Charlotte Chambers

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Ben Griffith outside the plant in Edmonton

CAMPAIGNERS are holding a march against plans for a new waste-burning incinerator in a last ditch attempt to get politicians to change their minds.

The deal for the new facility is due to have its final sign off on Tuesday– having already been approved by members of the seven-borough North London Waste Authority.

Islington environment chief Labour councillor Rowena Champion, who sits on the authority, has described the proposal then as the “best worst option” for dealing with rubbish.

An existing site in Edmonton will be demolished and replaced with a larger plant, taking refuse from Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Har­ingey, Waltham Forest and Islington.

The contract to will be with Acciona – a Spanish company sole bidder for ownership after two other interested parties dropped out.

It is expected the rebuild will cost anywhere up to £1.2billion of public money.

A flood of community and environmental groups, scientists, MPs and doctors have all stood up at marches and heated town hall meetings to argue against the scheme with warnings that it will pollute the area and more focus must go on recycling.

Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, meanwhile, has been calling for the government to review the plan on grounds of cost.

Environmental opponents will renew their pleas for a halt on the scheme on Sunday with a march that begins at Edmonton Green train station at 12pm.

Ben Griffith, a member of Islington Environmental Emergency Alliance (IEEA), said: “It’s really important that we have a good turn out on Sunday. This is a last-minute opportunity to make them see they’re making a terrible mistake.

“The council are not facing up to the consequences of there being a climate emergency and therefore need a step-change away from landfill and incinerator towards waste reduction and recycling.

“We can’t carry on as we are.”

He warned that the incinerator will run until at least 2060, locking Islington and another other six north London boroughs into decades of pollution at a time when the world has woken up to the need for a complete rethink on how to deal with waste.

Activists say we need to focus on recycling and reusing and have produced, with the help of experts, alternative proposals.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he has no power to veto the waste burner, which is expected to produce 700,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually.

That is the equivalent of the total amount of greenhouse gas Islington produces on its own each year, Mr Griffith added.

Mr Khan became chair of the C40 – a collection of 97 cities around the world working together to come up with solutions to climate change – last month. C40 are against incinerators and have called for them to be banned.

Caz Royds, also of the IEEA, called the incinerator Islington’s “blind spot” in an otherwise “groundbreaking” attitude towards climate change and said it was not too late for them to “be brave” and change their mind.

Calling for a “Citizens Assembly” for everyone to sit together democratically and “thrash out” a solution, the retired publisher added: “The research around the incinerator was done in 2015. The world has moved so far in climate terms since then.

“Nobody in Europe is building them anymore – it’s not the way forward when you have the climate emergency we have of pollution and particulates.”

A Mayor of London spokesman said: “The Mayor does not have the power to pause the Edmonton scheme. In November 2019, there was an attempt to seek a judicial review of the government’s decision to go ahead with the incinerator. This was unsuccessful.”

Cllr Champion said: “If we make unrealistically optimistic assumptions about the amount of residual waste in years to come, it is extremely likely we will be left to find ways of disposing of significant amounts of waste using other, less accountable and remote private facilities, which I do not believe is the responsible way to act.

“If the situation changes, and the amount of waste is significantly less than expected, it can run at reduced capacity, without the need to import waste from outside north London boroughs, so north London is able to manage its own waste in line with the Mayor’s objectives.”

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