- learn about the conceptual framework Hodges' model. A tool that can help integrate HEALTH and SOCIAL CARE, INFORMATICS and EDUCATION. The model is situated, facilitates person-centredness, integrated - holistic care and reflective practice. A new site using Drupal is an ongoing aim - the creation of a reflective workbench. Email: h2cmng @ yahoo.co.uk Welcome

Thursday, April 17, 2008

municipal SOLID waste: Activist tinder - the perpetual fuel

There is nothing like a little bit of local politics to ignite the activist tinder - a perpetual fuel - that can be found in the POLITICAL care domain of Hodges' model.

At the end of February there was a knock at the door @2130 hours on a Sunday. It was a neighbour who lives a few doors away. What transpired was news of plans to extend an existing solid municipal waste plant in the valley between the communities of Blackrod and Horwich.

There was a meeting of the local council the following night and it was vital that people attend to learn of the plans and act on the information as they see fit. The proposal was summarised in the local press as copied below from the The Bolton News:

  • The plant would be capable of processing up to 75,000 tonnes of household and commercial rubbish.
  • It would create recyclable materials and biofuel products and would operate 24 hours a day, six days a week..
  • Four 38ft high bio-filters would need to be built to clean the air produced by the processing plant.
  • Owners say the facility would mean that 48,000 tonnes of waste, including recyclable glass, metal and plastics, would not be sent to landfill sites and that it would produce bio-fuel products, which could be processed to create environmentally friendly fuels. It is estimated the plant would create an extra 20 jobs.
  • Environmental health officers and the Environmental Agency have raised no objections to the plans.
While in the garden last summer I'd wondered about the occasional loud crashing noise. It couldn't be from over the wall (Halloween was ages off). Walking Sam I'd noticed rubbish on the road past the station, but thought it was just vehicles passing through. Well... they were passing through all right. Hearing the details at the council meeting and the smaller group who gathered together made me wish I'd been more curious and not lost in the virtual world. Station Road had been dusty for ages and suddenly it all clicked into place.

I never thought I would be asking myself - "Hey are you playing the NIMBYist?" Getting involved with the Environmental Action Group [EAG] I discovered that NIMBY is not alone:
... As the waste problem gets more acute, site selection for waste facilities becomes conflict-ridden, and the decision is usually met with considerable local opposition, e.g., with BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone), LULU
(Locally Unwanted Land Use), NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard), NOPE (Not On Planet Earth), or NOTE (Not Over There Either) arguments. Therefore, the solution should not be only cost effective but also environmentally and socially acceptable. Hence, the waste management facility location–allocation problem is characterised by multiple, often conflicting objectives. ... p.1405.
Erhan Erkut, Avraam Karagiannidis, George Perkoulidis, Stevanus A. Tjandra (2008) A multicriteria facility location model for municipal solid waste management in North Greece, European Journal of Operational Research. 187, 1402–1421.
As the environmental action group [EAG] stated at a further public meeting we really DO need new technologies and innovative ways of dealing with waste. Not everyone recycles. Local and national governments are under (fiscal) pressures to reduce landfill. I was immediately struck by the topography: at what height would the proposed chimneys be in relation to the surrounding homes and schools...? What impact would there be on people's mental health, a factor that was already an issue for many homes nearby? Investigating this to put together and articulate objections some key points had been omitted:
  • The publications from the company concerned and DEFRA highlighted these as new technologies, so what about the need for the precautionary principle?
  • Due diligence needs to be demonstrated and proven.
  • The estimates for the increase in traffic and noise did not seem realistic.
  • Contrary to claims made, the citizens impacted by the potential development were not informed.
  • Mention was made of another existing (new) plant, but how did its location compare with that proposed?
The EAG were able to make use of individual and professional knowledge. Other [EAG] people put a lot of work into this, collating, producing and delivering handouts, site visits and making contact with key people. Being at work I could not attend the main council meetings. Over a 1,000 letters of objection were submitted, with contingency plans in waiting.
The news is that the planning application was withdrawn 3 hours before Bolton Planning Committee was due to make a decision: Success (with eyes, ears and heart on the future)!
So, if you're making decisions that affect whole communities - think holistically - it is always best to avoid the BANANAs.
(I would love to map this onto Hodges' model, but no time....)