Saturday, 6 August 2011

Enfield Advertiser: Councillor Silkin, Bowes Ward

27 July:

"Given our belief that the growing ecological constraint affects everyone, I try to keep this column unpolitical. The polemics surrounding Pinkham Way have sorely tested this vision, however, especially gross misrepresentations of my position by people pursuing their own agenda. This is sorrowful to idealists like myself. Our environment is too important for such gamesmanship.

"The starting point is society’s generation of excessive waste. Readers know that I’ve already started scrutinising retailer packaging. For the moment, though, today’s waste requires processing. We cannot pretend it away.

"The Mayor’s policy is that London may no longer send waste to landfills outside the M25. Not only have centuries of abuse exhausted this possibility, but it is wrong to externalise nuisances - and especially to let rich communities dump on poor ones. Such 'free riding' constitutes market failure, and lacks moral compass. Access to healthy environments is the new faultline in social inequality.

"Thus, even as Bowes Labour opposes Pinkham Way for its intrinsic defects (proximity to habitat, smog, and congestion), we disagree with the Conservative alternative, which simply adds to the disproportionate waste burden, that Edmonton already suffers on behalf of all Enfield. There are different ways to solve any problem, and our preferred solutions combine ecological with social justice.

"What strikes me here is how the 'North London Waste Plan' benefits Barnet to Enfield’s detriment. Hence the official representation that we, the Bowes Labour councillors, submitted, opposing a new waste plant at Pinkham Way or anywhere in Enfield, while suggesting that Barnet alternatives be explored.

"It’s been pointed out that Barnet also has areas of deprivation. I welcome such insights, and will discuss possible responses with Enfield Tories, or anyone else – as long as they promise to act in good faith. Ecology should unite Enfieldans, not divide them.

"At this late stage, however, it may be too late to reverse the tide – which is why it also behooves us to consider mitigation strategies like electric vehicles. Practical environmentalism involves complicated arbitrages, and it is unworthy to mock them. Some people don’t just talk sustainability – we fight everyday to implement it."

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