Where is the Pinkham Way site(PW)?
The site is opposite the small retail park, Friern Bridge, which is east of Tescos on the A406. Until 1963 it was the Friern Barnet Sewage Works, since when there has been no activity, apart from some years of unofficial dumping by Barnet Council(LBB) and others. The site has completely regenerated – much of ii is semi-mature woodland - and has been a Grade 1 Site for Nature Conservation for many years. The site has been for a long time designated as land suitable for employment us. Thus it has a dual designation, which Haringey Council (LBH) describes as ‘posing challenges’. It has yet to go beyond this by offering a solution.
PWA’s contention is that the site now falls under the exclusions from the definition of brownfield land, and has returned to greenfield. It is also an integral link in the ‘ecological chain’ of green sites extending from Alexandra Palace to Coppetts Wood.
In 1998 Barnet wanted to put a residential development there; Haringey rejected it on grounds of the ecological value.
What is the project and who is proposing it?
There is a joint plan between the North London Waste Authority(NLWA) and LBB. The NLWA want to build a Mechanical and Biological Treatment plant(MBT) on two thirds of the site. On the remaining third LBB want to site their waste lorry park. A joint planning application was submitted in May 2011. After tremendous pressure from the PWA, and from the Haringey Lib Dem opposition, the application was placed ‘on hold’.
What is an MBT?
An MBT is a generic term for an enormous factory – this would be c 4acres – with a ‘pick and mix’ of waste processes inside. - which particular processes depends on the desired end product. The PW plant would treat 300,000 tons of black bag waste per year, to produce 180,000 tons of Solid Recovered Fuel(SRF), which would then be taken to another site – probably industrial – to be burnt for energy.
Why is it being proposed now?
Historically, UK waste has for the most part gone into landfill. As it decomposes it produces methane, a very damaging greenhouse gas. Several years ago, a landfill tax was introduced – a charge on every ton of waste landfilled – and this has risen steadily, in line with increasingly strict regulation to limit use of landfill. So other methods of treating waste have had to be developed, usually incineration(now called Energy from Waste – EfW) or MBT. MBT is quite a new technology in the UK, but in Europe has been in use for some considerable time.
Are there other MBTs in the UK and on what sort of sites?
There are a number of other MBTs either in operation or construction. These are built on what anyone would recognise as industrial land. Frog Island, in Dagenham, is on an industrial estate by the river, between the Ford plant and the Rainham landfill site; the 2 plants in Lancashire, Farington and Thornton, are sited respectively on the old Leyland truck test track and an ICI chlorine works on an estuary; Brookhurst Wood, north of Horsham in Sussex, is on an existing landfill site. Needless to say, none of these sites is a Grade 1 SINC with more than half the area covered by woodland!
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Who owns the PW site?
LBB sold the greater portion to the NLWA some time ago. It is not normal for any commercial company, let alone a public authority, to buy land before planning approval is given. Why the NLWA did this is a mystery; one reason, of course, could be that the authority convinced itself that planning permission would not be a problem (might it have been persuaded by an over-eager seller in Barnet and a compliant Planning Authority in Haringey?)
What’s the connection between NLWA and NLWP?
The NLWA is a statutory authority, set up to dispose of the waste from 7 N London boroughs – Haringey, Enfield, Barnet, Waltham Forest, Islington, Hackney and Camden. Each borough pays the NLWA pro rata. There are 14 directors, 2 ex officio councillors from each member borough; the authority is managed by waste professionals. The NLWA is not a planning authority.
The North London Waste Plan(NLWP) is a plan drawn up by the planning departments of the 7 member boroughs, to assess future waste ‘arisings’ and plan the capacity to treat them until 2027, including how much land will be needed to house waste facilities.
Simultaneously the NLWA has been in the process of procuring a contract, the largest ever awarded in Europe, to treat the waste over the next 30 years – until the early 2040s. The contract will be concluded at end-2012.
What is the effect of NLWP suspension?
Any local plan has to undergo an Examination in Public(EiP) in front of a Planning Inspector. These are experienced and independent planning professionals, individually appointed by the Secretary of State through the Planning Inspectorate.
The EiP for the NLWP started on June 12th last and was scheduled to last two weeks. It was suspended because the Inspector was concerned that, during the five years’ preparation of the plan, the NLWP Councils had not fulfilled their legal duty to co-operate with planning authorities outside London, who have been receiving waste from the N London area for a considerable time.
This looks to be a failure that cannot be rectified. At present we are in a period of statements and responses between the Inspector and the Councils, which will end around the beginning of the summer holidays, when we should know whether the plan has to be redrafted completely or can be salvaged in some way.
Either way, the suspension will cause considerable delay.
However, the NLWA’s contract will not wait. They have already remarked on the considerable delay – mainly brought about by PWA – and the potential failure of the waste plan causes them significant difficulty, as it is the examination of the waste plan which assesses the suitability and need for a waste facility on a particular site.
It’s possible – and to PWA this is a significant and dangerous possibility – that, sooner rather than later, they may resurrect their stalled application and put pressure on LBH to progress it quickly.
Why are you still campaigning and trying to raise money when there are delays in the planning, and the NLWP may have to be redrafted?
As we explain in the previous point, the NLWA’s plans remain unchanged, and, as far as we can see, the Authority has no option but to pursue them as vigorously as possible. In our opinion, the most dangerous and testing phase of the campaign is just beginning.
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How is Haringey involved?
LBH is the planning authority whose job it will be to determine the planning application. It also, through the NLWA’s ownership of the PW site, has a one-seventh interest in the land
Why did Haringey seek to redesignate the site?
Sites are designated for particular areas of use – industrial, general employment, retail, housing etc – in a Local Development Framework(LDF). Above all local borough plans is the London Plan. The latter has stipulated that the most suitable land for siting a waste plant is industrial(note sites of other MBTs described above). LBH, very much, in PWA’s opinion, at the behest of the NLWA, is trying to redesignate the site as industrial land.
Both sides, incidentally, claim that this redesignation is now in force, when they know full well that the Inspector’s report into Haringey’s LDF has yet to be issued.
The proposal was the subject of the consultation held in November 2011 which resulted in a massive response, and to the single day’s hearing in February 2012. By the time the Inspector’s report into is published, PWA’s intervention will have delayed the process by the best part of a year.
Is Haringey conflicted?
Thus LBH wears two hats; it is the planning authority, and it is also a member of the NLWA. This should make no difference. A County Council will wear both hats as a matter of course.
PWA’s perception is that LBH sometimes forgets which hat it is supposed to be wearing!
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