engage magazine issue 007/\'08 - Page 56

56 ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES Waste and Recycling In today’s climate, with politicians all seemingly desperate to prove their ‘green’ credentials, it’s easy to forget that the environment hasn’t always been a sexy topic. By Maurice Mcleod Environment Sixteen years ago when Brian Haley first got involved with the environment, it was still largely seen as the preserve of tree huggers and obsessives. Brian, a former graphic designer, was voted on to Haringey Council in north London after a by-election in St Ann’s ward and very quickly showed that he didn’t mind getting his hands dirty. He had been a spokesman on environmental issues for his ward’s Labour party before being elected and dove headlong into the brief after his victory in 1994. “In the year that I joined I became the lead member for environment,” he recalled. The environment brief was attractive to Brian as he considered it to be a crucial service that virtually everyone in the borough relied upon. “When I first came into local government I wanted to do something that really made a difference to people’s lives, and the environmental portfolio does,” he explained. “This is the real front line stuff that people complain about everyday: flooding, drainage, trees. So that’s what really made me want to get involved at a local level and to try to make their lives better. If you have children or an elderly parent, the council provides services for you with schools or elderly care but if you have none of that, the one thing the council supplies is your environment. When you step out of the front door, you want to be sure the street lights work, there are no abandoned cars and that the rubbish has been collected. I think it’s the fourth emergency service.” Initially, as Deputy Lead Member for Environment, Brian was able to side step the politics and concentrate on making changes. “When I started, environmental issues were a side issue but they have moved up the agenda, he said. “I tend to be below the line in terms of media coverage because I like to get on with the job.” Brian is now a cabinet member for environment and conservation in Haringey; chairman of Polkacrest, the second largest clinical waste company in Britain; and nonexecutive director and chairman of London Waste Limited. door and said give me your rubbish and I’ll give you cheap electricity, considering the energy problems that we are going to have, they would say ‘yes please’. Mission for the “We are probably the most regulated industry. What comes out of the stack at our plant is steam. “Two years ago the European directive (WID) said that all incinerators in Europe had to clean up their act. “We have spent £27m cleaning up our act and you can go onto the website and see what’s coming out of our stack. London Waste is a private company set up as a joint venture, 50% owned by the seven boroughs of North London and 50% privately owned by SITA UK, one of the largest waste companies in the World. London Waste is a heat-from-waste plant. “It has been seen as not politically acceptable to be burning your waste,” he admitted. “But, I know if I knocked on your “Industry and the Government now recognise that incineration is part of solving the issue of waste and recycling, and the spin off is energy. “We provide the national grid with enough energy to supply 24,000 homes and that’s all from waste and so it seems like a no-brainer. “The Caribbean, for example, [[[[[XX]H\XYHY\[ ܈[K[ݚ[[[\]ܜ[HHܙX]Y[YK8'X[H\[Y\[]\H]H[ܙHX] YK]\H[[\H[HR˂Z[YHTQHUS