We need councillors on the NLWA who speak up against climate change

Friday, 15th July

• JEREMY Maher is quite right about the lack of democracy, accountability and openness from the North London Waste Authority, (A waste authority with vast powers and massive budgets, July 8).

The NLWA makes huge decisions, not least to build a massive new waste incinerator, costing us £800million and emitting up to 10 per cent of all the greenhouse gas from the north London area.

Instead of open, public, elections to the waste authority, each borough council chooses two councillors to go on the board.

In Islington that’s the councillors with lead responsibility for the environment and for finance. Woe betide any other councillors who would like a go! And those two councillors need not know much about options for handling waste.

So they listen to the advice of the NLWA senior staff and the chair – who’s been in that position for 14 years – and that advice is, of course, constrained by institutional goals; in this case to build the incinerator come what may.

And many of the important discussions go on behind closed doors. So we the public are not allowed to know if there are any real debates going on or how seriously the NLWA members consider all the evidence provided by experts and campaigners against the new incinerator.

Supposedly the NLWA members are accountable to the councils that appoint them. But in Islington, for example, we don’t know how many councillors have been prepared to question their senior colleagues appointed to the NLWA.

We don’t know because, again, many of the important discussions are behind closed doors. Meanwhile the NLWA pumps out its propaganda and misleading claims.

Still, they say the incinerator will cost £600million when it’s really £800million; still, they say it will burn “unrecyclable waste” when most of it is recyclable; and so on and so on. And they face barely a word of criticism from north London councillors.

It doesn’t look like the NLWA is accountable to the north London councils for waste strategy. More the other way around. All the councils except Haringey have faithfully toed the NLWA line.

So we definitely need institutional reform. And we desperately need councillors who will speak up against climate change and for public health, accountability and the truth.

Avenell Road, N5

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