Edmonton incinerator, shop staff, TfL and homeless

Parents and children from the Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Rebuild campaign.

Parents and children from Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Rebuild campaign - Credit: Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Rebuild campaign

Withdraw council support for unjustifiable incinerator

Tania, XR Zero Waste, writes:

If north London’s seven councils remain committed to building a £1.2 billion incinerator complex in Edmonton, they will effectively lock in incineration overcapacity not only for the seven boroughs, but also for the capital itself. 

Indeed, the plant will account for roughly two-thirds of the surplus capacity of approximately 950,000 tonnes” forecast by Mayor Sadiq Khan.

One might reasonably ask: How are the councils justifying the decision to lock in overcapacity? But perhaps a more appropriate question is: How are they justifying building an incinerator during a climate emergency?

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If built, the new incinerator will be 30 per cent larger than the old one, even though the amount of waste produced by north London has been declining for more than five years. Since the seven councils will be contractually obligated to keep the incinerator running at capacity, the consequences of this project are beyond dispute.

First, the Edmonton incinerator will needlessly and unjustifiably belch out roughly 700,000 tonnes of CO2 per year (half of which comes from plastics/fossil fuels). These greenhouse gases, which are not accounted for in the London Plan, are equivalent to adding another 250,000 diesel cars onto our roads—for decades.

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Second, the seven councils will undoubtedly continue to send recyclable materials to be incinerated, just as they will continue to miss recycling targets. At the moment, up to 85pc of the waste we burn in north London could actually be recycled, and our 30pc recycling rate falls well short of the mayor’s 50pc target for 2020, jeopardising the 65pc target for 2030. Yet boosting recycling rates need not be difficult, as Wales recently demonstrated.

Third, the councils will need to import waste into north London, adding to waste transport emissions and exacerbating road congestion.

Fourth, more incineration capacity will inevitably translate into an increase in adverse health impacts from various forms of pollution, such as ultra-fine particulate matter in the air we breathe and mercury in our water.

In the absence of joined-up thinking across the city, north London’s councils could grab this bull by the horns. They could withdraw support for the incinerator as a matter of priority, before a construction firm is selected. Doing so would free them up to invest in circular economy infrastructure that would help the boroughs meet recycling targets, slash CO2 emissions, reduce pollution, improve residents’ health, create green jobs, and live up to stated climate ambitions. What’s stopping them?

Treat shop staff with respect

Paddy Lillis, general secretary, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), writes:

The run-up to Christmas is always a really busy time for retail workers, shoppers can be stressed and things can boil over. This year is likely to be even more stressful as a result of recent lockdowns and worries around coronavirus.

I want to gently remind your readers to remember that shop workers are people as well. They will be working really hard to make your shopping experience as enjoyable as possible.
Talking to our members who work in retail, I know that verbal abuse cuts deep. Many will go home after a shift upset about an unpleasant incident that took place at work that day and worried that it will happen to them again.

During this appalling pandemic we have been shocked to find that incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shop workers have doubled. The main flashpoints are enforcing Covid rules, queueing and shortage of stock. None of these are the fault of shop workers, but too often they end up on the wrong side of customers’ frustrations.

That is why Usdaw, the shop workers’ trade union, is asking customers to ‘Keep your Cool’ at Christmas.

I would also like to ask your readers to support our members by signing the petition to protect shop workers at: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621

TfL plea for fairer funding deal

Dr Alison Moore , Londonwide Assembly member, writes:

The pandemic continues to cripple Transport for London’s main source of income, which comes from passenger fares.

Despite this, the government has so far refused to provide TfL with the sustainable and long-term funding deal it needs to keep services running smoothly and to secure the future of key infrastructure projects - which are crucial for job creation and supporting London’s economic recovery.

This has meant that City Hall and TfL have been forced to find other ways of making up the financial deficit they face in future years.
One of the fairest solutions would be for ministers to allow London to keep hold of the money it collects through Vehicle Excise Duty. This is worth around £500 million per year, and is currently spent to subsidise road maintenance in other parts of the country.
If the Department for Transport will not come to the table to discuss this, the mayor has signalled that he might need to explore the option of a new boundary charge in future years.

This would mean that motorists outside of the capital, would need to pay a £3.50 charge to drive into Greater London.

The ball is now in the government’s court.

A homeless person and their dog shelter in a doorway in separate sleeping bags in London. Picture:

Remember the homeless this Christmas - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Help us care for the homeless

Jon Sparkes, chief executive, Crisis and Crisis ambassadors Jo Brand, Al Doyle, Jonathan Pryce CBE, Ellie Goulding, Alistair Stewart OBE, write: 

For so many of us, this past year has seen us spending more time at home than we ever have before. During these difficult times we’ve learnt how much we depend on each other for connection, hope and support – and how having somewhere safe to call home can be lifesaving.  

While this Christmas will be unlike no other, most can look forward to some contact with loved ones, the exchanging of gifts and a home cooked Christmas dinner. But one in four people who are homeless will spend Christmas alone. This year there will be over 200,000 families and individuals across England facing the worst forms of homelessness. No one should be forced to live, or spend Christmas, shivering on the streets, sofa surfing with strangers or in a hostel with nowhere to call home and no-one to be with. 

That’s why, outside of our year-round services, Crisis supports thousands of people who would otherwise be homeless at one of the most challenging times of the year. While the pandemic means we’re having to do things differently, our frontline teams across the country will be working harder than ever to make sure people receive nutritious meals and festive treats, Christmas games and wellbeing packs, friendship and support from our volunteer befrienders, as well as somewhere safe to stay.  

This is just the beginning. We also introduce people to our year-round training, education and support with housing, employment and wellbeing. This long-term support helps people to rebuild their lives, giving them a future away from homelessness. 

But we need your help. To ensure we can be there for everyone who needs us, we’re asking members of the public to support our work this Christmas and year-round. So, whether you host a virtual karaoke night, become one of our essential volunteers or give a gift of a Crisis Christmas, you’ll be helping to ensure that this Christmas people facing homelessness aren’t alone.  

To find out more or to donate to Crisis this Christmas please visit: crisis.org.uk/support

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