By Sophie Squire
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Big march shows battle continues against Edmonton incinerator

Why hasn't the council situated the incinerator in a more affluent area?
Issue 2788
Protesters against the Edmonton incinerator with a long yellow banner in Turkish

The protest drew in a wide range of groups (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Over 500 activists rallied and marched through the streets of north London on Sunday to stop the development of a polluting incinerator. 

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) plans to expand and enlarge the Edmonton incinerator. Currently, seven different north London boroughs send their waste to Edmonton. 

But residents say that the pollution and emissions the incinerator pumps out will harm people and the planetIt is estimated that the project could produce around 700,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. Contracts that finalise the plans for the incinerator are due to be signed on Tuesday, but activists say that they’ll keep fighting until the project is stopped.  

Vicky has been involved with the campaign for two years. She told Socialist Worker, “We’ve written to councillors. We went to meetings where the incinerator was discussed. We’ve asked councils questions. But we get nowhere.”

“The bottom ash, which is the byproduct of burning waste, is toxic. We want to know what the NLWA is going to do with it. We don’t want it dumped in rivers. 

“The consultation with residents about the project was completely inadequate,” she added. 

John, who has lived in the Edmonton area for over 30 years said the future of his children and grandchildren motivated him to attend the protest.  “This project is all about money and not about health. Those in charge don’t care about how the air is poisoning us. They don’t even see us working people as humans. 

“All those in the council who agreed and supported this project are criminals,” he said. 

Activists met outside Edmonton Green station and then blocked and marched down the street. Hundreds of people showed their support for the marchers by taking leaflets and cheering. 

Linda from Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now campaign told Socialist Worker that organising high profile marches and actions have raised the profile of the campaign. 

“When we started we were blocking entrances to the incinerator with just five people, now we can get hundreds out in support. We go out leafleting, and there’s a lot of interest in the campaign. Every shop in the area wanted to put our posters in their window,” she said. 

Linda added that bringing together several different campaigns helped the campaign grow. “Joining with the Enfield Black Lives Matter group and Extinction Rebellion (XR) has really strengthened the campaign,” she added. 

The protest heard speakers from the local Kurdish community, the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel campaign and more. 

The NLWA has tried to present the project as much more green than it is, even calling the site the Edmonton EcoPark. But as activist Malcolm told the crowd that NLWA’s green promises are unachievable. 

“The NLWA say they’ll use carbon capture technology to offset emissions,” he said.

“But really the targets they say they’ll stick to are overly ambitious and near impossible to achieve.” Banners read, “Stop the burn, let us breathe” and “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” 

Several trade unionists brought their banners to the demonstration, including members of  Unite, CWU and the NEU unions. But disgracefully the GMB union is cheering on the incinerator expansion. And most Labour councils back it.

One of the largest banners on the march read “Stop environmental racism”, and activists drew links between environmental struggle, poverty and racism. 

Student Ilsu, who lives in the area, told Socialist Worker that she was only recently made aware of the Edmonton incinerator development.  After attending protests, she says she wants to get more involved in the climate movement. 

“The incinerator is being developed in an area that is 65 percent black, Asian and other ethnic minorities,” she said. 

“The council doesn’t want to listen to us. Those in power think working class people are stupid,” she added. “But protests like this show them we know exactly what they are doing.”  

As many speakers pointed out, an incinerator probably wouldn’t be built in a more affluent area. 

The campaign to stop the Edmonton incinerator is an impressive campaign. Activists are determined not to give up.

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