GOVERNMENT BLOCKS PLAN FOR EUROPE\'S BIGGEST INCINERATOR IN LONDON
Landmark decision is body blow to incinerator proposals across Britain
Greenpeace applauded the Government\'s decision announced today to refuse permission on environmental grounds for a massive expansion of the Edmonton incinerator in North London. The expansion would have turned the plant into the biggest household waste incinerator in Europe and one of the largest in the world. The proposed new rubbish burner would have caused an increase indioxins and other cancer-causing chemicals released into the air
and generated thousands of tonnes of highly contaminated ash for disposal in landfill sites each year.
The decision to turn down the proposal because it would act as a disincentive to recycling beyond the statutory minimum will have huge implications for other incinerator proposals around Britain. The Government was also concerned that any shortfall in waste delivered to Edmonton due to increased recycling would lead to waste being imported into the north London area - this too has significant implications for other incinerator proposals.
The Edmonton incinerator, already the biggest in Britain, has been the target of a massive campaign by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Londoners Against Incineration. In October 2000, Greenpeace volunteers occupied Edmonton\'s 100-metre chimney, shutting it down for four days. The volunteers were all acquitted of all charges by a London jury in a unanimous verdict in June the following year.
Greenpeace incineration campaigner Mark Strutt said, \"The Government has done the right thing. Stopping this mega-incinerator is good news for the health of British people and good news for the environment. The decision to stop Edmonton B will have massive implications for other proposals to burn waste and is a body blow to the whole incineration industry. It seems that the Government has finally got the message that incineration is a terrible way of dealing with household rubbish and people don\'t want to be poisoned by these polluting plants.\"
The Major of London has also strongly opposed the Edmonton expansion on health grounds, because it crowds out recycling and would undermine his own waste strategy.
The whole of the area surrounding Edmonton has already been designated an Air Quality Management Zone due to its unacceptably high levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, of which Edmonton is one source. Even Enfield council, who part own the plant, have said that the need for an expansion has not been shown. A council committee has said that the incinerator is badly run and that there is a potential conflict of interest in both representing the community and part owning the plant.
All incinerators routinely releases significant quantities of chemicals called dioxins, which the World Health Organisation classifies as causing cancer. The Government has already admitted that one in three Britons are taking in the maximum amount of dioxin that is considered \'safe\' and more than half of British babies and toddlers
are exceeding this limit. People do not need to live near an incinerator to risk exposure to dioxins. These chemicals remain in the environment for years and can travel long distances through the air. Dioxins contaminate soil and plants and then enter the food chain and can become concentrated in people\'s bodies.
The Government is currently carrying out a review of Britain\'s waste strategy. The present policy encourages councils to build more incinerators. At the moment there are only fifteen working incinerators in Britain but this figure could rise dramatically in the next ten years. Such a building programme would increase overall dioxin pollution and represent a massive waste of valuable resources that could come from recycling.
The average rate of composting and recycling for London is very low at about 12%. This contrast dramatically with several cities around the world that have recycling rates over 50%. For example, the Canadian city of Edmonton recycles 70%. The seven London Boroughs that own and use the Edmonton incinerator (Camden, Haringey, Waltham Forest, Enfield, Islington, Barnet, Hackney) have composting and recycling rates of: 8, 7, 6, 6, 5, 4, and 4% respectively - all well below the London average. They all have a financial interest in the plant.
Mark Strutt added, \"Stopping this giant rubbish burner is a great first step, now this Government needs to urgently halt building work on incinerators in Swansea, Basingstoke, Portsmouth and Southampton and cancel all the other incinerator projects in the pipeline that threaten the health of people in this country.\"
Greenpeace has written several times to both the operators of the plant and the London boroughs who use it, suggesting better ways of dealing with rubbish and would be happy to help with a strategy that would eliminate incineration.
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