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Topic: Preserving the Pinkham Way woodlands - a new appeal

Preserving the Pinkham Way woodlands - a new appeal
08 Oct 2019 14:40 #4820

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[Original article]

pinkham way woodlandA path in Pinkham Way woodlands - photo: Miles Attenborough

The long drawn out process of finalising the North London Waste Plan is continuing. The next important stage - the examination in public by the planning inspector - is scheduled for November. Its outcome has the potential to determine whether or not a waste processing plant is built on an important nature conservation site - the woodlands adjacent to the Pinkham Way section of the North Circular Road.

One question the planning inspector will be addressing is "Whether the policies strike an appropriate balance between making appropriate provision for waste management over the plan period and protecting people and the environment". Specifically,

"How does the Plan reconcile the compatibility of [the Friern Barnet Sewage Works/Pinkham Way] for waste management uses with the designation of part of the site as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC)? Does the fact that this site is not a Strategic Industrial Location (SIL) or a Locally Safeguarded Industrial Site (LSIS) preclude its use for waste management purposes?"

The Pinkham Way Alliance has been campaigning to preserve this nature conservation site from development for more than a decade. They have received considerable support from the public, but will need more to pay for professional representation at the hearing. See the box below.

pinkham way alliance logoAppeal sent to supporters of the Pinkham Way Alliance, October 2019

I hope your summer was a good one.

Looming large for autumn is the Examination in Public (EiP) of the North London Waste Plan (NLWP), scheduled for 20 and 21 November.

The Planning Inspector has read the April 2019 submissions, including ours – the one you supported in higher numbers than ever before, nearly a decade into our campaign!

His questions in response, linked to below, set the hearing agenda. We’ve got October to prepare our final case.

We’re pleased to note that the Inspector’s questions on Pinkham Way (see section 63) address the right issues.

You can read his questions here. (Section 63 for Pinkham Way).

And with all this in mind… we’re still short of the money needed to pay for essential professional representation at the hearing.

You’ve been very generous already this year. Please can I ask you to pass our fundraising request to the people in your local networks, particularly if they added their names in support of our Waste Plan submission.

If you're able, please donate here

It’s not yet been possible to find a date for another fundraiser by the wonderful Galitsin String Quartet. We’re hoping for early 2020; you’ll be the first to hear if so.

Best wishes,

Stephen Brice
Pinkham Way Alliance

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Preserving the Pinkham Way woodlands - a new appeal
09 Oct 2019 09:32 #4821

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What’s it all about? Anyone new to the area in the last five years or so may well have missed the story, so in brief:
The Pinkham Way site (mischievously called a sewerage works, something it hasn’t been for many decades) can be seen to your left, opposite Alan Day garage, as you head west and pass under the big mainline railway tunnel over the North Circular. It’s a Grade 1 Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) containing 2000 trees, protected landform, rare birds, amphibians and more. CO2 beneficial, it also acts as a sponge helping alleviate storm flooding from local river ways.
In 2009 the North London Waste Authority (NLWA), that’s the public body who deal with black and blue bin waste once the councils of North London collect it, bought the site from another public body, paying above market price, in a deal classified secret in the contract; although not very secret as it turned out. Efforts were made to change the classification of the land to Industrial to make it more waste-site amenable. That failed and the Pinkham Way Alliance (PWA) had their first success.
Unverifiable by me were rumours of them seeking to develop an incinerator there, but certainly much effort went into developing a major plant intended to take black bin waste from 7 councils, process it into briquettes and then ship it to Kent where it would be burned to produce the UK’s most CO2 generative power, that even before adding in the transport issues.
Despite support from DEFRA and many other public bodies, after considerable PWA push-back, that too hit the dirt. An alternative based around the Edmonton incinerator followed and was said by them to be £900m cheaper! (That’s our money, and on a like for like basis I believed that to be a gross underestimate.) Edmonton is due to be redeveloped and be live by 2026.
But still required was a waste plan for North London’s 2 million people, businesses, construction activity and all related. That the North London Waste Plan (NLWP), prepared by 7 north London Council’s, including Enfield.
Their first effort hit the dirt some years back in the first day of its Public Inquiry.
The follow one started its long route in something like 2015. The first draft (Regulation 18) fell into the same old trap – waste forecasts projected up (although trends have been down for a long time now); and existing site capacity underestimated, with both then combining to produce a need for new sites, ie Pinkham Way. To complete the story that picture was overlaid with an apparent but unjustified need to spread waste sites around more than has been the case, ie put one on Pinkham Way.
Behind all this has been many separate skirmishes with Haringay Council, the sites host borough, culminating in a decision late last year by its Regulatory Committee to recommend removal of the site from Haringey’s approval of the final (Regulation 19) version of the waste plan. A whipped full Council didn’t follow that recommendation. That doesn’t happen very often, if ever.
This R19 final draft therefore went to public consultation earlier this year and saw considerable comment by PWA and about 40 others.
The Inspector has reviewed the inputs and raised 88 questions. These will form the heart of Novembers Public Inquiry.
PWA have and will be focusing on the ecological case Basil outlines above as well as the wider plan issue of - is there a need for extra sites at all given available capacity and waste trends? And even if there was, is the near 100 hectares of Industrial Land the waste plan identifies for waste purposes sufficient? We conclude absolutely yes, a conclusion also backed by substantive input submitted by specialist consultants acting for a current waste site owner.
On the one hand NLWA consistently deny any current or future plans to develop the site, on the other, when it finally comes to stopping the door being closed as part of the R19 plan work, they strongly hint at an “integrated resource recovery park”, along with composting and a waste transfer facility (think skip wagons in, sort stuff, sorted stuff out again). The concrete is unlikely to be good for the local ecology and trucks unhelpful to the UK’s nearby 5th worst congested stretch of road.
A cynic may conclude that having an overpriced asset on your books might make you look a bit silly having bought it with public money if it didn’t have a valid use. So best try to find one.
There’s a great deal of walking the line evident in the performance of more than one public body throughout this saga and a very strong case to say overstepping that line in some cases, but that may better be one for the book and documentary one well known investigative journalist is keen to see produced once this is all over. Legal, consultant and other costs already exceed £30m while a much larger sum was sunk in a linked transaction required (then) as part of the original purchase deal intent, which we are all slowly paying back, and will be for many years yet. Austerity it is not.
PWA has often asked for your support, either in cash to fund the specialists employed to hold PWA’s hands at the Public Inquiry, or to add your name to PWA’s submitted work. Last time for the R19 submission almost 3000 did exactly that.
Now’s your chance to add your own support. It does make sense. The link is in the previous article.

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Preserving the Pinkham Way woodlands - a new appeal
14 Oct 2019 15:37 #4836

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Further to Karl's post about the background to the Pinkham Way campaign, here's more information, taken from a Facebook post by another leading light of the PWA, Jeffrey Lever.

THE PURCHASE The North London Waste Authority hastily bought the Pinkham Way site from Barnet Council in 2009, to meet a tight deadline for its application to the Government, for PFI funding for its proposed major municipal waste project. The NLWA was required to show that a site was available for the project.

THE CHANGE OF PLAN However, in 2010, the Government’s spending review withdrew the prospect of this funding, and in 2012 the NLWA changed its plan, announcing a saving of £900m compared with the earlier plan, and instead decided to re-use the site of its present Edmonton incinerator. Thereafter, the NLWA has consistently stated that it has “no plan” for the PW site, but holds it “as an asset”. Hence it is not true to allege that local people are foisting waste management from the PW site on to folks in other localities.

MYTHBUSTING It is also factually wrong to stereotype PW as a “middle class” interest. The nearest dwellings to the PW site are modest inter-war Barnet Council flats, and the surrounding streets form a mix of unremarkable social and private housing, by no means “privileged”, located where the boundaries of Enfield, Haringey and Barnet boroughs intersect. But even if that were not the case, surely, environmental protection is a universal right. All lives matter equally.

THE REAL ISSUE stems from the misfortune that the NLWA misjudged the suitability, value and risk of buying the site outright (rather than an option to buy) in its haste to meet the PFI application deadline. And Barnet Council, which has two members on the 14-strong NLWA Board of Directors, was keen to sell the site outright, so as to replace £30m of Barnet's bank deposits in jeopardy upon the 2008 collapse of the Icelandic banks. However, planning policy confines waste management to designated industrial sites; whereas, the PW site was, and remains, designated a Grade 1 SINC (Site of Importance to Nature Conservation). As such, it is protected from any development that would compromise that designation, other than in exceptional circumstances.

FACE THE FACTS The north London waste and planning establishment now needs to face up to the fact that, despite that the NLWA bought an site for more than £12m, the site ought properly to be managed as the SINC it is, either by a local authority or a charitable voluntary group, as is the case at Coppets Wood, a SINC in nearby Friern Barnet with a similar history.

STOP GAMING THE SYSTEM Instead, some of these folks still cherish the cosy but unlawful aspiration that official embarrassment can be avoided by manipulating the planning system to alter or interpret the site’s designation to suit the owner, since that owner is a public body. Pinkham Way Alliance disagrees, since that would open the floodgates for any potential developer to corrupt the land planning process, which has to apply equally and transparently to everyone.

IT’S NOT “JUST AN UNUSED BIT OF LAND” This substantial 6-hectare nature conservation site is in everyday use for its lawful, valuable purpose. It sustains one-and-a-half-thousand trees, which remove tons of vehicle pollution and carbon dioxide from the air, and reduce the temperature measurable in surrounding land. It is home to a hundred species of plant, scores of varieties of insects and invertebrates, bats and rare types of bird, some endangered. It forms part of an environmental corridor that allows these forms of life beneficial entry and exit from the green belt into inner London’s parks and gardens. It awaits the deculverting of the river that runs the whole length of the site, as urged by the Environment Agency. In other words, the site excellently fulfils its official environmental and biodiversity designation as a SINC, with the prospect of giving even more of this life-enhancing value. But it does not, and cannot, fulfil any purpose relevant to the statutory duties of its owner, the North London Waste Authority.

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Preserving the Pinkham Way woodlands - a new appeal
22 Nov 2019 09:00 #4964

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This week an inspector appointed by The Secretary of State led an evidenced review of the North London Waste Plan (aka “Pinkham Way”).
Something like a decade in the making, the PWA vigorously contested many aspects of the plan, from the highest level strategy to the smallest nuance within sub sections of policy. All presented with robustness, clarity and supporting evidence.
The Inspector did not guide next-steps at the end – the usual process – instead he asked the seven North London boroughs to go away for a month or so and, having considered what had happened to them over the period of the examination, assess whether, unlike all the kings horses and all the kings men, they would be able to put Humpty back together again. And if they thought it possible, not least in acknowledging what they would ultimately need to reface and the scale of rework required to get there, to also convince him they were capable of so doing.
The core PWA team conversely found a local pub for a few celebratory sherbets.

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