Friday 25 October 2013

Harlesden Incinerator: Open letter to Ealing Council leader

Guest post by Mark Walker

Open letter to Julian Bell, leader, Ealing Council

Mr Julian Bell
Ealing Council
Town Hall
New Broadway
Ealing W5 2BY

Dear Mr. Bell

I am writing to ask that you take account of the serious health and pollution risks to the North Acton ‘island triangle’ community from Clean Power Properties Ltd’s proposed energy recovery plant and withdraw your council’s consideration of it.

As you will know, Clean Power plans a combined anaerobic digestion (AD) & advanced conversion technology (ACT) plant at the Willesden Freight Terminal, which facility would handle 198,000 tonnes of commercial & industrial waste annually. Food waste in tanks will be turned via AD into biogas while the ACT process chars non-food waste also to produce gas which is likewise burned for energy.

The plant is wholly unsuitable for our residential area of 200 homes as it will generate low level gases like sulphur dioxide and benzene for many years. Your council’s own environmental health department advised in August that the application be rejected since the developer cannot prove that it will not harm the local community.

It’s well-known that AD plants cause pollution, as DEFRA itself admits in its recent research. ACT plants have never been successful operated within communities and those in construction are large scale and well away from people’s homes. Some of ACT’s pressurised autoclaving operations carry particular risks, as the fatality at the Sterecycle plant in 2011 and subsequent collapse of the operating company has tragically shown. These are not technologies to be located next to local families’ homes.

Clean Power’s waste site will be fed by an average of 67 lorries every day, using the narrow Channel Gate Road, passing only 3-4 metres from local people’s small Victorian houses. Residents have for years been troubled by day and night noise, vibration and lorry pollution from the freight yard’s operations. Approving this proposal would lock local families into 16-hours-a-day vehicle pollution for a generation.

The North Acton community has already been plagued by odours of rubbish from the Powerday materials recovery site on the other side of Old Oak Lane - for almost a decade. Local people know, far better than your planners or an offshore developer’s paid advisers, the stupidity of siting waste plants by people’s homes – where the quality of life is frequently spoiled by simple (to an outsider) matters like a lorry that isn’t cleaned or a containment building not being correctly sealed during a shift.  Powerday’s operations have generated over 300 telephone complaints to the Environment Agency in the last three years alone. For Clean Power to now propose another waste plant - only 300 metres away from an existing one - is highly inappropriate, as East Acton ward local councillors and our local Ealing MP Angie Bray have stated already. The Powerday experience shows beyond any doubt that where waste sites are located in the midst of residential areas, unpleasant odours and other polluting impacts cannot be mitigated by planning conditions or environmental regulations.

You more than anyone will also be aware of this application’s non-compliance with the West London Waste Plan, the ongoing strategy for the area’s waste processing that comes under your direct remit. The WLWP has identified possible waste sites but Clean Power’s chosen site never made the study’s shortlist.  This application is thus based on a discredited site and goes against your own council’s three-year investment in strategic waste options, consultations and expert conclusions.

Clean Power talks repeatedly of its clean, green technologies but offered the planning committee no evidence whatsoever of safely working sites among residential areas, in Britain or anywhere else.  Your members’ bemusement at the lack of any plant performance data or site approvals from the developer was plain to see.

TITRA residents’ group has repeatedly asked your planning officers for Clean Power site certificates or fact-finding site visits and received nothing – not one sheet of paper or one working waste site address. What person, still less a responsible London borough, would buy goods from a tradesman without industry approvals and proper references?  Clean Power appears to be a salesman without any proper goods, let alone any satisfied customers.

Your council’s approval of this ill-advised energy recovery plant would be to condemn local people to a risky experiment in ‘green’ energy that will harm residents’ health and degrade the area with polluting activity. The pragmatic option would be to site a waste processing plant on an industrial estate next to food producers and other manufacturers’ operations – not in the middle of an existing residential area.

I urge you to seek safer and more practical alternatives to Clean Power’s unproven waste processing technologies. Approval of this high risk development would be a disaster for the already-blighted North Acton triangle. And it would demonstrate beyond doubt that you and your council have abandoned our community and your own principles of giving people a decent hearing and looking after their well-being.

Yours sincerely
Mark Walker

Member of Island Triangle Residents’ Association committee
North Acton
London NW10

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