Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/377/4244
Fighting the polluters in Bolsover
No waste plant here!
THE BOLSOVER area of North Derbyshire was one of the most polluted in Britain. The Coalite coke and chemical works filled the valley with smoke and fumes.
In 1968 a fire broke out in a building making Agent Orange. In 1991 milk sales from local farms were banned when high levels of dioxins were found.
Local people reluctantly put up with these problems while hundreds of jobs were at stake. Socialist Party members consistently argued for workers' and community control over polluting industries. Why should we have to choose between jobs and a clean environment? We need both.
Last summer Coalite went into liquidation. Workers lost their jobs and up to 75% of their pensions. But factory chimneys no longer send out smelly clouds. Many local people feel their chest problems have improved.
So the prospect of a new waste treatment plant on the site angers local people. Anglo United Environmental has a planning application to build a pilot plant handling 50,000 tonnes of household waste a year. If successful, they will expand.
Only the operating company went bust. Workers lost jobs and pensions but the site's owners are still in business - Anglo United Environmental is part of the same group of companies as Coalite. The whole thing stinks!
Hundreds of people depended on Coalite for their livelihood but the new plant will only employ a handful. But there will be tonnes of rotting waste awaiting treatment, flies, rats, noise from lorries and from the plant itself. Anglo United says its steam treatment process is safe but after years of pollution, local people suspect everything the company says.
Even if the process was safe and even if it was the best way of recycling household waste (which is unproven), this plant should not be built. Before any development takes place the whole site needs cleaning and detoxifying after 70 years of heavy chemical contamination. This could provide several years' work for more than would work in the waste plant.
The campaign to stop the waste plant started with mass meetings. 1,000 have signed a petition. 40 people came to get involved when Residents Against Toxic Sites (RATS) was set up. A demonstration has been called for 5 February.
The planning application will be opposed at every step of the way, but Labour-controlled Derbyshire county council will decide whether the plant gets planning approval. Their Director of Environmental Services has already told Anglo United Environmental that the council is willing to divert municipal waste to the facility if it gets planning approval! Many local people doubt the independence of the planning procedure.
Workers and the local community should decide on the planning application. The owners should pay to clean up their poisonous site. Then the community should be able to choose how the site is re-used, providing jobs, leisure and a healthy environment for all.
In The Socialist 22 January 2005: