Gazette letters: Local parakeets, Morning Lane and recycling

Parakeets are contributing to the dawn chorus of Hackney Marshes. Picture: KEN MEARS

Parakeets are contributing to the dawn chorus of Hackney Marshes. Picture: KEN MEARS - Credit: Archant

I’ve just returned from the annual Antarctic Ocean Commission in Hobart, Tasmania where I’ve been campaigning for more protection of the spectacular wildlife down at the bottom of the world, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green and Greenpeace.

Despite the warnings of the International Panel on Climate Change that ocean protection is needed urgently, in particular in polar regions, the governments attending the meeting could not agree any positive outcomes.

The 38 hour journey back to my home in Hackney provided plenty of time for reflection on just how important the rising amount of environmental activism is for our future - keeping these issues high up the political agenda is absolutely essential, and it was fantastic to read the Hackney Gazette special climate issue whilst I was away and learn even more about what's going on in the neighbourhood.

To overcome jet lag - running kit on at 5am - I go out onto the streets of Hackney and Islington to explore autumn's arrival.

Wet leaves, lower temperatures of course, but also the autumnal dawn chorus - less celebrated than the spring equivalent but in the newly barren trees the birdsong of blackbirds and robins sing loudly.

The most incredible dawn chorus of all has to be found on the eastern path of Hackney marshes. Running through thick mist that swirls over the Lea every autumn as the ground, still warm from summer heat, creates a cold front with the newly chilled air, there is an utterly deafening shrieking of a thousand (or more) voices.

The parakeets that nest there are never louder than at this time of the year and the sound of them before dawn is, though not pretty, one of the most spectacular natural events I think it possible to come across in Hackney.

I want to reassure your readers that any proposals to redevelop the Tesco store and car park on Morning Lane in Hackney Central would include a brand new Tesco store as well as new workspace, shops and homes (Gazette), writes Cllr Guy Nicholson, cabinet member, Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy.

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Hackney Council intervened to buy this site in 2017 because it learned that Tesco itself was looking at options to either redevelop or sell the site - the council did not buy it because it wanted to get rid of the store. The store is valued by local residents, which is why the development agreement guarantees a new store on the site.

Rather than simply leave a site at the heart of our town centre to the whims of the market, council ownership of the land means it has more control over what is built on it. Hackney wants homes and workspaces for local people as well as a store, public spaces and walking routes through the town centre and that's what the council will demand.

As the developer works on these plans, it is right that these are subject to public challenge as well as through the planning process. There will be further consultation and opportunities for local people to have their say in the near future.

I'm writing in response to your article how a fifth of all recycling sent to one north London plant is just burnt, fuelling the capital's dirty air crisis, writes Cllr Clyde Loakes, chairman, North London Waste Authority.

The report correctly suggests that some recyclable material has to be disposed of as waste. Like the Hackney Gazette this is something we want to avoid; to do so we need the public to make sure that they put the right things in the right bins.

Where a lorry-load of recycling is "contaminated" with high volumes of non-recyclable materials like dirty nappies and messy food waste, the recycling plants must decide whether it's practicable to recycle that material. During a climate emergency it is simply not acceptable that we are in the position of having to dispose of perfectly good, recyclable material.

The North London Waste Authority and our constituent boroughs, including Hackney and Islington, are working hard to maximise recycling; the range of materials which residents can put in north London's recycling bins is the largest anywhere in the country.

Information about what can be recycled is readily available online and we regularly run campaigns to promote recycling and reduce contamination - our #BinYourNappy campaign was reported on the BBC and ITV earlier this year. But we want even more action on this and we have repeatedly called on the government to make recycling compulsory and to give local authorities the power to enforce correct recycling.

We also work with our contractors to do what we can to ensure as much high-quality material is recycled as possible. Where there are lower levels of contamination in the recycling waste, teams of operatives have to spot non-recyclables ("contaminants") that are mixed in with the recycling and remove them by hand. They pick out things like clothes, black bin bags, polystyrene, but also sanitary products, nappies, food waste, and sometimes, entire bags of general waste; this is very dirty work.

Working together, residents and councils can make this situation much better. I hope your report encourages everyone to take care over their recycling so we can get the outcomes that we all want to see and successfully tackle the climate emergency.

I found the article in the Hackney Gazette on recycling rates at one of the North London Waste Authority's two plants interesting as being amongst the worst in the country with 20 per cent of recyclable waste being burnt, writes Mr J E Kirby, Clissold Crescent, Stoke Newington.

At my location we have a lockable compound with two mixed recyclable waste bins inside, today, I have checked and it says we are not allowed to put the following in them - Pyrex, broken glass, window glass, light bulbs, polystyrene/food trays, plastic toys, Tupperware etc, not even garden pots. I can understand them not accepting garden waste.

Glass for instance is a 100pc recyclable material along with Pyrex. A light bulb would have almost 100pc recyclable material, glass, the metal base either screw or bayonet, and also the filament being an electrical conductor.

As for plastic toys, most plastics, with the possible exception of thermo setting plastics, are mostly if not all recyclable, especially dense formed plastic and also possibly expanded polystyrene that is used as internal packaging when you buy a domestic appliance for instance. Why they say no foam food trays, I do not know, especially if they are washed before putting in the recycling bins.

Surely it is the responsibility of the local councils to either ensure that if they employ contractors to collect recyclables or if they collect directly, to ensure that the waste recycling stations are able to separate recoverable materials rather than burn them.

I can possibly understand the injury risk of broken glass being recycled but Pyrex and light bulbs - surely all material is tipped onto a conveyor belt at the stations before sorting. How for instance is paper or cardboard or indeed shredded paper sorted as it goes through the plant?

Even if non-recyclable is burnt, surely it can be burnt in incinerators which supply heat to generate electricity, hot water etc.

Expanded polystyrene for instance is bulky; it takes up space even though it is light in weight so perhaps this is why it can't be put into the mixed recycling bins.

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