Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/238/25046
Big Business Destroys The Environment
THE CAMPAIGN to stop a landfill going ahead in the middle of a residential area in Bootle, Merseyside, is now taking its case to the High Court in London.
Michael Brierley, Merseyside Socialist Party
Bootle residents, along with Socialist Party activist, Peter Glover are now challenging a decision made by planning inspector, David Baldock, at a public inquiry in October 2001 but to do so, the residents need to raise £20,000.
This legal challenge is based on the fact that at the public inquiry, when the residents came up with a proposal to put a cycle track on the site instead of a toxic rubbish dump, the Planning Inspector did not take it into consideration.
The campaign, fought hard over the last two years, began in March 2000 when the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats on Sefton council approved Michael James of Environmental Reclamation Land Services going ahead with the tip.
The residents got that planning application stopped in November 2000 but on appeal at the public inquiry, the Planning Inspector granted planning permission to James. This is despite all the valid health and safety concerns put forward by the residents group, Orrell Thorn Residents.
St. Robert Bellarmines' Primary School is just ten yards from the proposed site and children who attend the school would have their health seriously affected by a rubbish dump nearby.
A landfill on this particular site would deposit 1,500 tonnes a day, 70 tonnes of it toxic, on a narrow strip of land. The landfill was said to consist of 'inert' materials but how will it be checked? No more than three people will be employed on the whole operation. No way can every piece of rubbish be checked to see if it's inert.
Recently, the sickest building in Europe, St. John's House, formerly the Inland Revenue, was demolished. A few days later, the Planning Inspector's report was released allowing the tip to go ahead. Coincidence?
A report for Sefton council by an engineering expert, commented that: "The current proposal is for a construction and demolition waste site (and not an 'inert waste' site) with no provision for control of any landfill gas or leachate either during operations or post-completion... "
Michael James has no experience in dealing with landfills. This is purely a business venture. Here is evidence of the way in which capitalism works and how big business is destroying the environment.
An article in British Medical Journal showed that children born and brought up within two kilometres of a landfill site are more likely to suffer health defects as a result. Bootle already has the country's worst infant mortality rate but if the dump went ahead, the infant mortality rate would become far, far higher.
Bootle residents will also suffer from noise pollution from tipping. The proposal for the dump is in the Orrell ward in Bootle. The sound report that James presented had sound readings taken from Orrell in Wigan. Residents put these points to the planning inspector at the public inquiry but were ignored.
The inspector also ignored the fact that Orrell Thorn residents had an alternative use for the site - a cycle track connected to the already existing loop line cycle track in Aintree. Funding to develop the site has been acquired in principle from the cycle charity, Sustrans.
The Inspector's final report did not acknowledge this at all. The cycle track is a viable alternative and could still go ahead if the case is defeated in the High Court.
Socialist Party's Central Role
SOCIALIST PARTY activists have played an important role alongside the residents in this campaign. Peter Glover has been on the Orrell Thorn anti-landfill residents committee from the very beginning. The local ward Labour councillors and the MP have played an absolutely scandalous role.
In March 2000 when the proposal was given the go-ahead the first time, Labour councillors in Netherton & Orrell ward seconded it. They only backed down after public pressure was placed on them.
Labour MP Joe Benton has been invited to every single residents' meeting that has taken place - he's chosen to come to NONE of them quite simply because Peter Glover is there.
It now falls on the residents' shoulders to take the case to High Court. The Residents Committee members have already borne the brunt of the £20,000 costs but desperately need donations to keep it going.
The residents group has already received donations of £250 from several trade unions and also from street stalls. To receive more information about the campaign, please write to the address below for an appeal pack. Get your trade union branch to support and send a donation. This appeal is urgent so please donate no matter how big or small.
Please make cheques payable to Orrell Thorn Residents, c/o 20 Pennington Avenue, Bootle, Merseyside, L20 6JQ.
In The Socialist 25 January 2002: