Ken Loses Attempt to Block Incinerator

Court gives go ahead for more local waste to be burnt

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The West London Waste Authority (WLWA) has been successful in the case it brought against Ken Livingstone at the Royal Courts of Justice.

The Mayor was seeking to prevent the WLWA increasing the amount of incineration of waste that it does at a facility in Colnbrook, west of London. The WLWA wants to use this method to reduce the fines that their members would be liable to should they further increase the us of landfill. The WLWA is a joint committee of the six west London boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond. It handles almost a quarter of London's rubbish.

WLWA Chairman, Cllr Mrs Eileen Kinnear, said: "WLWA is very pleased with this High Court decision, which is a victory for common sense. It is likely to save West London’s council tax payers many millions of pounds. We cannot understand why the Mayor has been so negative and in complete opposition to current Government thinking on waste disposal”.

She said it would be farcical if London boroughs were unable to use a facility based right on its borders whilst Councils from across the UK were taking advantage of the Colnbrook plant.

WLWA currently sends over 600,000 tonnes of waste to landfill every year. Government now regards landfill as the least environmentally acceptable way to dispose of waste, and the amount that can be sent to landfill is being cut. WLWA is subject to a statutory allowance system that is backed by very stiff financial penalties of £150 per tonne for exceeding its allowance. Over the next five years WLWA’s allowances reduce to 320,000 tonnes and eventually to 225,000 tonnes.

The decision to take action against the Mayor by the WLWA was not a unanimous one with the Liberal Democrat members abstaining on the issue. Andrew Dakers, who represents Brentford in Hounslow said, "We felt that West Waste and the Mayor should work collaboratively to find the most environmentally desirable alternatives to landfill, something that the previous members of West Waste had failed to grasp."

He accused the Conservative majority on the board of being intent on confrontation with the Mayor and felt that the best course of action would be for the WLWA to concentrate its efforts on finding sustainable waste processing facilities within West London.

Margaret Salasidis, waste campaigner for West London Friends of the Earth, said "We are extremely disappointed at the court decision to allow West London's waste to be incinerated. West London Friends of the Earth is in full support of the Mayor's appeal against this decision. Waste of resources, emission of toxic gases and climate changing emissions from incinerators have no place in modern waste management strategies."

Mr Livingstone said the ruling means the amount of London's rubbish sent to incineration could go up from around 20% to 36%. The WLWA denies this saying that if they did use the Colnbrook facility the maximum increase in the proportion of London's waste incinerated would be 1% The Mayor is lobbying for to get the formation of a single waste authority for the London area which he would control. He believes this would be a more effective way to increase the capital's recycling rate and plans to appeal against the decision.

It is understood that WLWA has set aside £100,000 to cover its legal costs in this action against the mayor.

April 10, 2007