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