‘Extraordinarily rude’ Clyde Loakes refuses to carry out cost review of £1.2bn north London incinerator
- Credit: Grimshaw Architects
The head of the project to rebuild an incinerator to burn all of north London’s waste refused MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith’s request today that he carry out a cost review of the £1.2bn project, even though its cost has doubled since last July.
Chair of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA), Cllr Clyde Loakes, was faced with an onslaught of appeals from politicians, doctors and campaigners from the seven boroughs whose waste will be burnt at the plant in Edmonton, all making a last ditch attempt to plead the project is put on pause and reevaluated. The existing plant - which dates back to 1969 - is coming to the end of its operational life, and the NLWA says it needs to be replaced to avoid putting rubbish into landfill - which it claims would produce more carbon dioxide than incineration. But opponents are concerned about toxic emissions, the cost, and that it would have a negative impact on recycling, as well as flawed documents citing a need for it.
Mr Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, expressed concern about the harmful effects the particulate matter emitted from the incinerator would have on his constituents’ health, who live downwind from the incinerator.
“Many of the people who will be affected do not appear to have been consulted,” he said.
“In view of the London Plan, the planned incinerator looks like it is three times larger than for London’s needs, and is 30 per cent larger than the current incinerator, although waste has been falling.
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“I would therefore ask if you would undertake a value for money review, so that everyone can see whether at this particular point of time this represents value for money.” In response Cllr Loakes told Mr Duncan Smith he should ensure councils are given the power to make recycling compulsory.
Mr Duncan Smith offered to “do a little deal” with him and to do that in return for the cost review.
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But Cllr Loakes refused on the basis that the programme was “constantly being scrutinised around its value for money”.
Evelyn Ryan from the campaign group Pinkham Way Alliance raised the point that an inspector rejected the “inflated level of forecasting” of the predicted amount of waste, and the methodology used for studies which were used to obtain planning consent in 2017.
READ MORE: Rubbish chiefs urged to pause incinerator project as quoted cost soars from £650m to £1.2 billionREAD MORE: North London incinerator: Mother’s legal challenge to plant that will burn waste from Hackney, Islington, Camden and HaringeyCalling on Cllr Loakes to step down, she said: “You are going to go ahead with a massive oversized project without any strategy, and you know now that all of the numbers and all of the strategies you relied on to get your proejct through that process was based on what is now rubbished calculations.”
Cllr Loakes had no response.
Haringey Lib Dem Cllr Tammy Palmer complained that residents in only two of the seven north London boroughs have been consulted, and that the rest “hadn’t been given a voice at all”.
Even to those residents that you did consult the plans have changed most considerably, and most notably is the burning of waste from outside of north London,” she said.
“I don’t need to tell anybody here that air pollution is a blight on this wonderful city. Last year my son took part in an air pollution study for Kings Collegs and a Dispatches documentary.
“I’m not sure you’ve ever seen pictures of children’s lungs when they inhale particulate matter.
“The time of incinerating waste has passed, the size of this incinerator will surely produce more CO2 for london than anything else. Our focus must shift. By the time this plant is up and running, I think we will see it as an expensive dinosaur.”
Cllr Loakes responded: “There’s a saying that with power comes responsibility Tammy, and you have just perfectly articulated to me why you will never be in power.”
He continued: “You have to take ownership and responsibility for your decisions, and that’s what we are doing on the North London Waste Authority.
“And I have seen the lungs of a child whose lungs have been impacted by emissions. Of course I have.”
“You are extraordinarily rude,” replied Cllr Palmer.
“Thank you Tammy,” said Cllr Loakes.