David Levy – Is it Expedient or is it Short Term Greed? – Apr 18

Most business decisions which happen in life affect us either through our taxes and the public purse or via the outcomes involved in their delivery, and sometimes both.

To give just one example — Incinerators, along with Gasification, Pyrolysis or Waste to Energy Plants, are high value investments which banks and business desire and promote. It means investment and returns over a twenty-five year contract as a minimum. They look on paper to be a sure-fire proposition.

But is this so?

For any of these technologies to work they need a combustible element to be present and in most cases that has turned out to be plastic.

So straight away the idea of recycling plastic, this most valuable asset, is undermined and for what? The answer offered is: To move waste management, via these technologies, higher up the waste hierarchy and away from landfill. That recycling could have done this is ignored in favour of an economic solution.

Is this the end of the argument?

Well, the answer is no. It has always been my opinion that all solutions should have a thorough evaluation of all implications before a decision is given for any technology. In this instance what other implications are there and who should make the final arbitrary choice?

Taking the latter first, the only body that has the ability to make a detached and unbiased decision has to be a body of scientists such as the Royal Society. They should be mandated to have the power of choice with their decision final. It is the only way decisions can be wrestled away from the business interests and political oversight which has had its own way for millennia.

What I have not mentioned so far are the frequent problems that these incineration technologies have in performance and safety — and who reaps the results of these happenings? Also, this approach has been called land-filling in the sky and there’s a legion of reports and evidence which demonstrate that communities next to such plants have increased levels of rare cancers, with bronchial and heart problems in the elderly and the very young.

It is unfair on communities not be represented when it comes to making decisions on each individual case. Yet that is the system we have today.

At worst, fat cats and sleaze ball politicians are making decisions that impact on the life and health of communities. The length and breadth of our nation communities are being exposed to what is expedient. Politicians work to the brief: Business as usual — and they will bend over backwards to facilitate this.

Meanwhile communities are left to the system called “public consultation” in order to have their say and so enter the realms of decision-making. This system is both fraudulent and time-wasting. The design is one of appearance and, for the uninitiated, it appears that the communities affected are represented and involved.

Once again the so-called checks and balances of decision-making are not in a neutral corner. Government has interfered, pressured by business demands, so as to ensure that those agencies designed for public health and the delivery of safeguards have a brief which says: follow protocols, but get the job done.

It is almost an impossible task to find a case where such an agency has stood up for the environment. In all cases, the capital expenditure is made and only then do they consider whether the plant is safe or not. Ludicrous, but that is the system. It is designed to facilitate, but not to do a proper job of evaluating all the implications of what is being proposed.

Until the system changes and decision-making is placed in the hands of the unbiased we will continue to have situations where decisions are made in secret, pushed through councils where all toe the party line and then, finally, agencies who are restricted in their role and have to comply with a system which is measured and denies a thorough evaluation of the evidence.

Does this make sense?

Is what is happening down to what it is expedient, or is it due to short-term greed?

David Levy

 


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