Final say on Leeds Incinerator?

Veolia will enter a 25 year contract next month to dispose of household waste. Photo©knowyourleeds

Veolia looks set to enter into a 25 year contract with Leeds City Council next month to burn Leeds’ household waste. With a £68.6 million Private Finance Initiative buffer, its estimated value is £550 million.

The proposal for the incinerator based at the old car boot sale site in Cross Green Market wasn’t the biggest. But the capacity to burn 180,000 tonnes-a-year meets the council’s requirements.

As head of east Leeds community activist group COVEN, Sarah Covell is angry that councillors and Veolia haven’t done enough to address the resident’s concerns over the plans.

“They’re saying it’s a landmark building. It is. I doubt don’t that for a second. It’s a very beautiful building. It’s just in the wrong place with the wrong things inside it.”

Artist impression of new multi-million pound incinerator

She’s dismayed that a lack of political pluckiness can dismiss widespread concerns, even when something is opposed so openly.

A group of Labour councillors walked out of a vote last November which recommended the incinerator.

“It’s called predetermination,” said one of the absentees, Coun Ron Grahame (Lab, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill). “Predetermination just takes me out of reckoning altogether.

“I’m not allowed to predetermine the situation for the incinerator prior to it coming to the East Leeds plan meeting. That’s why I walked out. I didn’t give in to myself whatsoever.”

It also took Labour councillors: Mick Lyons (Temple Newsam), Katherine Mitchell (Temple Newsam) and Asghar Khan (Burmantofts and Richmond Hill) out of the reckoning.

According to the YEP, landfill taxes would cost the council £16m a year by 2013. “If we don’t deliver on the timescale mapped out we will put this council is financial jeopardy,” said Coun Mark Dobson (Lab: Garforth and Swillington), the council’s executive member for environmental services, reported the YEP.

“It’s definitely in the wrong site. It should have gone to the Aire Valley where it belongs,” said coun Grahame to knowyourleeds.

Councillors across the political spectrum have expressed concerns over incinerator plans. Coun David Blackburn (Greens, Farnley and Wortley) said at the time: “To go for incineration is the worst decision the council has made for years.”

While Coun Stewart Golton (Lib Dem, Rothwell) blogged: “Since taking power 18 months ago, the Labour Party have been very quiet on their waste policy. I assumed they were working hard on an alternative. Imagine my surprise that their alternative to an incinerator is…an incinerator!”

The proposed facility will create up to 300 jobs during the three-year construction period say Veolia and 45 permanent jobs.

“It’s not local people from East End Park who get the jobs. It’s not just we don’t want this in our ward. We want them [LCC] to look at other methods of residual waste disposal,” said Sarah Covell.

Critics say more recycling options needs to be evaluated. Photo©knowyourleeds

“Somethings gone wrong somewhere,” said Coun Grahame, “the incinerator itself is totally in the wrong place. When they tell you there’s 200 other sites to look at, you look at 200 sites and you think, well it comes down to an old car boot sale site (Cross Green Market) then there’s something not really right.”

Despite these criticisms, Veolia looks set to win the battle. But that’s old news.

The proposals for the incinerator began in 2006 but this week the proposal are open to public scrutiny for the last time.

First stop: Richmond Hill on Thursday, next St Philip’s Church on Friday before finished at 8.30pm, Saturday at Halton Moor Community Centre.

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9 thoughts on “Final say on Leeds Incinerator?

  1. sarah covell says:

    It would be nice to think that Cllr Grahame was correct in his assumption of predeterminism – the comunity he is supposed to represent however sees it as abject cowardism. Sadly we have discovered since electing them, that our labour councillors say one thing in public and do another. It would only take a few councillors with backbones to stand up and say NO – we wont support it and things would have changed. My personal opinion is that these councillors would swear black was white to get votes and then trot along behind their party leaders and do as they are told.

    Both the labour party and the lib dems have taken Inner East Leeds down the road to hell. Well it’s time to fight back…………… its better to fight than be trodden on by set of people whose only aim to continue to be elected and claim generous tax free allowances at the cost of poisoning my community.

    And as for a labour councillor quoting from a ConDem concept of localism – i am shocked he can even spell the word to be honest.

  2. Sam Hirst says:

    I personally think it is a disgrace that the Council have chosen an outdated 20th centaury approach to a 21st century problem. I wish the Council would open their eyes and look towards a more environmentally friendly solution. We do not want to find our self’s locked into a 25 year PFI contract.
    One of my major concerns is just how close the former Cross Green Market site is to the residential properties and of course the track record of the preferred bidder. It’s almost like the Council have not taken any of this into account.

    • I think it’s sensible you raise that point: if plans formalise then the incinerator will still be in operation after the HS2 gets here. Do you feel there’s been enough debate about what generational impact it’ll have?

      • Sam Hirst says:

        I don’t think that has being considered at any stage during the so called consultation process. I don’t think the council can do anything right these days. It’s just let down after let down with the council at the moment. I am seriously beginning to doubt they have the public’s best interests at heart other than their own predetermined agenda. That’s how myself and many others feel.

  3. Maria says:

    Let’s just hope that this isn’t the “Final say”. There is still the planning application process, there is still the local opposition to the plan.

    People in East End Park and Richmond Hill know that our councillors will not fight our corner- so we’ll have to do it ourselves!

  4. Sue Lynch says:

    The choice of this Incinerator is wrong on so many levels

    technology that is already becoming outdated
    in the midst of an area with terrible levels of COPD
    a company with a bad safety record both here and abroad
    being done through a discredited PFI arrangement

    you could not make a bigger mess of this if you tried.

    Sarah is right,the local councillors have let people down on this project from the very beginning when the arguments now advanced by the Lib Dems (who started this project) against this proposed site were put to them by NO2Incinerator they ridiculed them and accused us of scare mongering now they are embracing them wholeheatedly to oppose Labour more than to back the residents of East End Park/Richmond Hill and the Labour councillors who said they would oppose this project, even if it meant defying their party folded like wet cardboard.

    This expensive white elephant in waiting will not have enough raw materials if the council continues as promised to extend recyling and roll out household food waste collections to the whole city following the success of the Rothwell trial and government initiatives to reduce packaging succedd and at that point Veolia, as it has done in Sheffield, will apply to bring in waste from outside of the city to keep the facility running profitably and what will the council do then – on past performance – roll over and play dead seems the most likely outcome.

    • Thanks for your reply Sue.

      It’s certainly left a sour taste for many involved as many of the points you’ve raised have also been queried by others.

      Politics aside, if I may, what seems to be the find is of a particular concern too is the length of the contract and need to burn waste when everyone is figuring out ways to be more innovative with their recycling.

      For what it’s worth, I was wondering if you’ve managed to put these points across to your local MP?

  5. […] previously reported on knowyourleeds, the meeting will discuss the proposed incinerator in Cross Green Market. The incinerator – […]

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