Feedback from Kate’s Westminster Debate

8 Responses

  1. Jeremy Maynard says:

    Good for Kate Green! Although this was not a ‘debate’ in the traditional sense. The Hendry dude just waffled nonsense in a soothing, low pitched monotonous voice. Where was his evidence?? He cannot be taken seriously after that dialogue of drivvel. He needs challenging, and educating. For the sake of the people of the UK. He then can go on to educate his fellow Ministers – although most of them having hailed from Public School, should have a sound science education behind them. (Tally ho, old boy!)

  2. Michael Ryan says:

    Three cheers for Kate Green whose words “it is not enough for organisations, such as the Environment Agency, simply to say to residents that they’ve reviewed the available evidence and that they don’t see a significant threat to public health.” should send a shiver down the spine of the higher management at the Environment Agency.

    Those who have been alleging “no significant harm to human health” from airborne emissions from any incinerator have been relying on a combination of bluff and apathy.

    The residents in Trafford aren’t apathetic and it’s time that the Environment Agency’s bluff was called.

    Here’s letter in today’s Western Mail which puts the Environment Agency nicely on the spot. They’ve been dishing out IPPC permits for over fifteen years and haven’t bothered to check any relevant data in electoral wards around any of them as far as I’m aware.

    Effect of incinerators
    SIR – I’ve read the letters by Chris Mills (Oct 25) and Michael Ryan (Oct 20) regarding IPPC permits for incinerators and would be grateful if Chris Mills would confirm that the Environment Agency:

    . Rely on advice/opinion from the Health Protection Agency for health effects of incinerators;

    has not examined rates of illness and rates of premature deaths at all ages in electoral wards around any incinerator and are therefore unaware whether or not any existing incinerator the Environment Agency is supposed to be regulating is causing any harm to health.

    Norfolk County Council want an incinerator in King’s Lynn and they’ve assumed that the Environment Agency are effective regulators whereas Michael Ryan’s letter suggests otherwise.

    If the Environment Agency has examined relevant data around existing incinerators, could Chris Mills please inform the Letters page of the locations of the incinerators and the data examined.

    King’s Lynn, Norfolk

  3. Jeremy Maynard says:

    That’s really good Michael. These politicians need to make an effort to find out the truth about these incinerators – it is not difficult to understand, even for a politician. The health of our children must come before the economy. Other countries are doing it, why not us? If this continues there will be a mass exodus of professionals leaving this country. Shame for those who are not qualified/financially able to do this too. They get sick, and the government do away with the NHS, so they die. Slowly and painfully. Death from inhaling dangerous emissions is very unpleasant. What happened to Great Britain? Nothing ‘great’ about us now! People need to feel valued, not conned, lied to and disregarded. We need strong, passionate leaders, who genuinely have the welfare of the public at heart. Not a bunch of wishy washy ex-public school boys, whose primary concern is the feeling of power and the balance sheet. Incinerators are out-dated and filthy technology. We MUST NOT allow this to go ahead, locking us into a 25 year contract.

  4. Alison Parker says:

    Well said Jeremy I am with you all the way. I feel it is very strange that all the local people know how DANGEROUS these types of Incinerators are but the government do not ??????? To them its a cheap solution to get rid of waste no body wants and save money on land fill tax. when more could be done on the recycling . That is like burning money !!! when it could be put to good use. But no they want cheap electric from waste what do they care if people get sick! Its all money to them and what they get out of it. The NHS can not cope with any more it is already stretched and when all the new BIG COST CUTTING comes in then what ???? People will not get treated its not right and its so unfair . Peoples health must come first .

  5. Michael Ryan says:

    I’ve been looking at some archived material and found this literary effort of mine from nearly nine years ago, but the thrust of it is still applicable today if Sir John Harman is substituted for Lord Chris Finsbury, the current Chairman of the Environment Agency. I doubt if many people read Paul Brown’s Guardian article “Burning issues” on 12 September 2001, so I’ll paste on next blog, and I hope you spot the words “control and proper regulation of incinerators”:

    “(Barbara) Young accepts that Dalton and the agency have fallen out over four principal issues : the control and proper regulation of incinerators; the treatment of one-fifth of its manual workers who have an industrial disease called white finger; levels of stress and bullying among agency employees; and a dispute with residents at the Welbeck landfill site near Wakefield, West Yorkshire.”

    The Guardian: Missing the point
    Guardian, The (London, England) – Wednesday, January 2, 2002
    Was the absence of any mention of the environment agency in your end-of-year environmental round-up (What crisis?, December 19) tacit confirmation that it is widely recognised as a discredited and ineffective organisation?

    Even the sacking of agency board member Alan Dalton for trying to remedy the failings of the agency hasn’t been enough to persuade environment minister Michael Meacher that he must dump agency chairman Sir John Harman, the Labour man who twice failed to get elected in a safe Yorkshire seat (1992 and 1997) and who was “unavailable” when you were writing about Dalton (Burning issues, September 12).

    Michael Ryan , Shrewsbury

  6. Michael Ryan says:

    The Guardian: Society: environment: Burning issues : Row breaks out over role of the environment agency
    Guardian, The (London, England) – Wednesday, September 12, 2001
    Author: PAUL BROWN
    As the environment agency meets for its annual meeting today, it is embroiled in a public row with one member of its 15-strong board who has issued a “back me or sack me” ultimatum to the environment minister, Michael Meacher. Alan Dalton says his attempts to fulfill his brief of improving the agency’s protection of the public have been obstructed.

    Dalton was appointed to the board of Britain’s biggest quango, with its 10,500 workforce, in January 1999 by Meacher to inject new thinking, but says he has failed and attacks a “culture of secrecy and defensiveness”. He says the agency has lost its way in its role of cutting air, water and ground pollution.

    In a letter to the minister, Dalton says: “I am not satisfied that the environment agency is currently protecting its employees, communities and environment from damage to the best of its ability.”

    At the heart of the row is what the agency is supposed to do. Is it merely to apply the existing government regulations or is it to champion the environmental cause on behalf of the public? Dalton , who is paid pounds 20,000 a year for a two-day week, appears to be alone on the board in believing it is the latter.

    The history of the agency is instructive. It was set up in 1996 to continue the work of the National Rivers Authority (NRA) and, in doing so, took in factory inspection, regulating incinerators and municipal rubbish disposal. The Conservative government, which had set up the NRA five years earlier, when water was privatised, was so alarmed at the public popularity of the organisation in attacking pollution, and its success in prosecuting industry, it had a rethink when setting up the agency.

    The government used new legislation required to set up the agency to curb the NRA’s powers but still left the new body potentially very powerful. John Major also appointed country landowner, friend and neighbour, Lord de Ramsey, as a safe pair of hands, to be chairman.

    The result was an eroding of the popularity of the agency. Protest movements subsequently sprung up around many proposed incinerator and landfill sites, many of them accusing the agency of failing to protect them.

    Meacher and John Prescott, then environment secretary, determined to revise the role of the agency when Labour took office. As part of this process, Dalton was appointed to a vacancy on the board and Baroness Barbara Young, who had a good track record of sharpening up another of the environment’s large quangos, English Nature, was appointed chief executive last January.

    Young does not side with Dalton , however, and says the agency’s job is to apply existing regulations, not to be an environmental champion. The agency has dismissed Dalton from his job as board member for the north-east region, but says that only the minister can dismiss him from the main agency board.

    Young accepts that Dalton and the agency have fallen out over four principal issues : the control and proper regulation of incinerators; the treatment of one-fifth of its manual workers who have an industrial disease called white finger; levels of stress and bullying among agency employees; and a dispute with residents at the Welbeck landfill site near Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

    Young says of Dalton : “Every issue he raised was legitimate, although sometimes the way he raised them, springing them in pub lic at board meetings, was not always the right way. We always investigated the issues and told him what kind of action we were taking, to reassure him we were on the case. Sometimes we disagreed about the facts, and sometimes about the right way forward. We have always told him what we have done and what we plan to do, but somehow it never seems enough. We find it extremely taxing.”

    Dalton ‘s area included the Byker incinerator in Newcastle upon Tyne, currently the subject of a prosecution by the agency of the operators and Newcastle council. As a result of the scandal over Byker and the Edmonton incinerator in north London, the agency has asked the government to change the regulatory regime so it has proper control over what happens to toxic ash left over after rubbish is burnt. In the Byker case, ash was used on allotments, and at Edmonton for building materials – both potentially endangering the public.

    Young says she had asked Meacher to bring forward regulations not due to be implemented until 2005 so that all emissions from incinerators, including ash, were strictly controlled by the agency rather than left to the operator to exercise a “duty of care” in disposing of it.

    Dalton thinks it is not single issues that matter, but what is the real role of the agency. He sent Meacher a 29-page dossier on his work for the agency, detailing the difficulties he says he has faced in intervening on behalf of the public, employees of polluting industries, and the agency’s own workforce.

    Dalton ‘s report was sent to Meacher on August 8, but the minister went on holiday three weeks ago without seeing it. A spokeswoman for his office says the dossier “raises interesting issues “.

    Dalton was not prepared to wait for Meacher’s response and decided to go public before today’s meeting. In doing so he has almost certainly sealed his fate, his three-year tenancy as a board member is unlikely to be renewed in December for a second term.

    Dalton , 55, is a chemistry graduate specialising in health, safety and environmental issues . He has a trade union background and although he has taken up the cause of employees, he believes it is the agency’s failure to be active on the environment that matters.

    By coincidence, the government has launched a five-year review of the agency and what it does. Whatever happens to Dalton , his strident criticisms have sharpened up the debate about what the agency’s future role should be.

    The environment agency’s AGM is at the Shaw Festival Theatre, Euston Road, London NW1, today at 10.15am and is open to the public.

  7. Jayne says:

    If you oppose incineration please email Charles Hendry, Minister. I have done, I am looking forward to his detailed reply.

  8. jeremy maynard says:

    Still wondering where the Davyhulme West councillors are. Do they not have council representation in Davyhulme West? The residents there are RIGHT NEXT to the proposed incinerator site. What on earth is going on? I have seen leaflets from both Labour and Conservatives in Davyhulme East showing strong opposition to the incinerator. Why is there a resounding silence from Davyhulme West? It is not acceptable to state ‘I am on the planning committee, I cannot comment’. That’s a cop-out. If these councillors do not make a concerted effort to listen to the residents, they will be voted OUT.

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