Another Labour council, Enfield, has shown that it is no friend of the working class by its decision to go ahead with a new incinerator in Edmonton, which is in one of the poorest areas of the country, with 65% of residents from ethnic minority backgrounds. The current incinerator there is coming to the end of its life. Air pollution in Edmonton already goes beyond legal limits. Edmonton as part of London is heavily populated.
Yet a month before, similar plans for an incinerator near a leafy village in Cambridgeshire was rejected, because it might damage historic buildings and because it wasn’t “in keeping with the local neighbourhood”. No such considerations for the population of Edmonton have been taken into account by Enfield council, for a neighbourhood with some of the highest levels of economic and social deprivation in the UK, and high levels of bad health. The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has driven this through. It serves seven London councils and all but one have a Labour majority.
The new incinerator will expand capacity of the NLWA by 200,000 tonnes. It will be bringing waste from other areas of London to be burnt. The campaign group UKWIN which is opposed to incinerators states that the 42 municipal incinerators in the UK released a sum total of nearly 11 million tonnes of CO2 in 2017. The UKWIN report said analysis of the composition of the waste showed that around 50% of waste in the residual waste stream sent to energy from waste facilities was recyclable.
This means that the councils who send their waste to the incinerator – Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, and Waltham Forest – have a low recycling rate standing at 30%.
The new incinerator will produce more than 700,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, and emit particulates that can damage the lungs of children. The amount of carbon dioxide pumped out per year will be the equivalent of an extra 250,000 diesel cars.
Hundreds demonstrated against the incinerator in late September, angered by the decision to go ahead. Climate activists and residents marched from Edmonton Green to the planned site of the new Edmonton incinerator in Advent Way, holding up traffic in Fore Street and part of the North Circular Road for as much as an hour. It was significant that both Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion have mobilised against the incinerator, realising both the fact that it is being built in an area where residents are predominantly from ethnic minorities and that it will significantly contribute to pollution and global warming. People of colour have taken a leading role in the campaign, and provided the majority of speakers at the rally before the demonstration.
There has been next to no consultation with the local population. Not a single Labour councillor in Enfield has opposed the incinerator. As for London Mayor Sadiq Khan, he has signally failed to make any move to stop the incinerator.
The Waltham Forest Labour councillor Clyde Loakes is chair of the NLWA. He has consistently acted in a high handed and dismissive manner, stifling debate at public meetings of the NLWA. He needs to be forced to resign. The building of the incinerator must be halted, and if that means direct and collective action, so be it, as other means have failed so far.