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Greenpeace volunteers acquitted over shutting Britains biggest waste incinerator

Greenpeace volunteers acquitted over shutting Britains biggest waste incinerator
Pouze anglicky
Greenpeace welcomes jurys verdict and calls on Government to end waste incineration in UK Five Greenpeace volunteers were today acquitted of charges of criminal damage by a jury at Wood Green Crown Court, London. The charges relate to the occupation of Edmonton incinerator in October last year when the five volunteers closed the plant for four days by camping on top of the chimney. The defendants had argued that their occupation of the plant was lawful because the incinerator was breaking pollution laws and discharging hundreds of tonnes of toxic chemicals which threatened people, property and the environment. Commenting on the verdict, Rob Gueterbock, a Greenpeace campaigner and one of the acquitted volunteers, said: "We are delighted with this verdict which totally vindicates our campaign to shut down waste incinerators in Britain and stop the Governments plans to build more than a hundred new rubbish burners across the country. The jury clearly agreed with us that the incinerator at Edmonton posed a toxic hazard to people, property and the environment and that we broke no laws in shutting it down." The verdict marks the second time in two years that Greenpeace volunteers have been acquitted by a jury [1] and will be a blow to Government plans to hugely expand incineration capacity across Britain. The jury clearly accepted Greenpeaces arguments that incinerators represent an unacceptable source of toxic pollution which threatens peoples health. Todays court verdict will encourage organisations and community groups that are actively opposing waste incineration and send a powerful message to the Government about public concerns over burning rubbish. Rob Gueterbock continued: "The public overwhelmingly reject incineration and this verdict is a clear signal to the Government about peoples concerns on this issue. We need to see an end to waste incineration and a massive increase in recycling and composting along with an official commitment to making Britain a zero waste economy." The Governments recycling target for the UK is 35% by 2015, even though many countries such as Germany and the Netherlands already exceed this target. Britain is currently near the bottom of the European league table for recycling and has the lowest glass recycling rate for any European country. Notes for Editors: [1] In September 2000 at Norwich Crown Court, 28 Greenpeace volunteers were acquitted of a charge of criminal damage in connection with the decontamination of a field of GM maize at Lyng, Norfolk, in 1999. [2] Media briefing on acquittal of the five Greenpeace volunteers at Wood Green Crown Court. The acquitted Greenpeace volunteers are: Rob Gueterbock, 30, from London, Frank Hewetson, 35, from London, Richard Watson, 36, from Lancashire, Janet Miller, 45, from Derbyshire, Christian Aslund, 26, from Sweden. The charges related to the Greenpeace occupation of Edmonton municipal waste incinerator (North London) in October 2000 when the volunteers occupied the top of the chimney for a period of four days and temporarily prevented the incinerator from operating by blocking the flue. The occupation began on the morning of 9th October and finished in the early hours of 13th October. The volunteers braved appalling weather and cold to maintain their blockade and were ultimately forced down by a combination of exposure, hunger and thirst. The Crown Prosecution Service maintained that during the blocking of the flue the Greenpeace volunteers caused damage to the structure of the chimney by banging in various spikes and pins used to hold ropes. The seriousness of the charges meant that a conviction could have resulted in custodial sentences. The defendants principle defence was that they acted to prevent the law being broken. The incinerator at Edmonton had breached legal pollution limits on many occasions and the defendants had every reason to believe that the incinerator was breaking the law at the time of the action. Edmonton incinerator, Britains largest rubbish burner, is owned by London Waste Limited - a joint venture between seven North London boroughs and SITA, a private French company. The Government is currently considering a planning application to expand the capacity of Edmonton incinerator by 50%. Greenpeace is currently campaigning for the closure of all municipal waste incinerators in the UK (and indeed globally) and for an end to the current expansion programme which could see up to 100 new incinerators being built across the country. Further information: Contact: Greenpeace press office on 020 7865 8255/7
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