Sunday 26 June 2011

There's money in muck

With landfill sites rapidly being filled and the tax on landfill rising to £72 per tonne in 2013 local authorities are desperately looking for solutions. Rather than action on reducing waste in the first place, which many local authorities see as the responsibility of government, the emphasis is instead on recycling which is where big business enters the picture. There is a central contradiction here because the more that can be recycled the more money the waste contractors makes, while the more the overall amount of residual waste can be reduced the less they will make.

Presently the West London Waste Authority, covering Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond is in the process of awarding a 25 year contract for waste management which could be worth up to £485m (the estimated cost of continuing landfill at present rate). The bidding process is under way and the preferred bidder will be selected in 2013.  There has been controversy over because during public consultation potential waste processing sites were selected, many in Park Royal, without any details of the processes that would take place, raising fears about possible pollution from incinerators. There have been public protest meetings in Ealing about this issue but little action in Brent.  Cllr James Powney is our borough representative on the WLWA.

A similar process for long-term contracts has taken place in South London and North London Waste Authority selected the following bidders in April 2011:
  • FCC Skanska (Formento de Construcciones y Contratas SA and Skanska Infrastructure Development UK Ltd) (consortium)
  • SITA/ Lend Lease (SITA UK Ltd and Catalyst Lend Lease) (consortium)
  • Veolia ES Aurora Ltd. 
The North London proposals have run into  trouble over a proposed plant at Pinkham Way in Haringey, on the border with Barnet and Enfield, with residents concerned about noise, congestion and pollution as well as the building itself. LINK  In South London, Croydon Green Party has been involved in a campaign against a proposed plant which they believe is really an incinerator:

In Brent itself the waste management contract with Veolia has been amended with some difficulty ahead of the new waste management strategy that starts in October 2011. Brent Council's contract with Veolia ends in 2014 and there will be a new bidding process to ensure best value. This process will be overseen by Cllr James Powney.

Veolia, a likely bidder for both contracts, is French multinational with a wide spread of interests including water (in north Brent it previously went under the names of Three Valleys Water), waste management and transport. It has been embroiled in controversy over its activities in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel which include a light rail system and waste management. Campaigners argue that Veolia is complicit in human rights violations. LINK

Despite this Veolia is seen to be in a favourable position for both contracts because of its possession of a depot in Alperton and a potential site for waste processing.  However,  Careys, a local company, set up an 'environmental solutions' company in February and named it after the Roman philosopher, Seneca, who is famous as a Stoic. The company newsletter even quotes Seneca: 'Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end'. Brent Council granted Careys planning permission for a 'super materials recycling facility' at Hannah Close in Neasden (below) in October 2010 with very little publicity and no response from environmental groups including the Green Party. The plant will process 1.1m tonnes of construction and demolition, business and household waste each year. By 2013 an energy producing 'wood biomass facility' will be operational which clearly raises issues over potential pollution.

The Seneca (Careys) plant in Neasden
In March 2011 Careys secured a public relations coup by agreeing to save the Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre which had been threatened with closure due to local government cuts. They will pay half the revenue costs for the next two years which I understand is about £50,000. Brent Council leader Cllr Ann John took part in a photocall with John Carey at the Centre. LINK

Further information on these issues:
West London Waste Monitor
 UK Without Incineration Network
Brent Friends of the Earth


Anonymous said...

Funny that Martin! a bit more digging needs to be done!

Andrew Newby said...

Comment from Andrew Newby of Barnet Green Party

On the NLWP, in my view its key shortcoming is its prediction of a sharp increase in total waste in coming years. This prediction is utter baloney. It is based on figures in the Londonwide London Plan ( shaping-london/london-plan) which admits the projections may be wrong as they are based on figures up to 2008 when the economy was going at full tilt and there was a construction boom. The NLWP itself comments that waste levels have actually been falling - it even gives figures - but it does not draw the obvious conclusion that they may continue to fall and make Pinkham Way a giant white elephant:

"the North London Waste Plan uses the (London Plan) apportionment data as the basis for determining its need; this may lead to a slight overestimate of the land requirement but will allow for more flexibility in the delivery of the Plan."

Have a look at for yourself.

Anonymous said...

My impression was that they accepted the per-capita amount of waste WAS going down, but that London's rising population more than countered that.

But I don't have any reference to support that.

Regarding the above, this is the first time I have seen DOMESTIC waste referred to at Hannah Close.