Wednesday, 25 February 2009

How the Environmental Agency rate Haringey

The Environmental Agency has released reports about each of London’s boroughs. Haringey’s report makes interesting reading. How is our borough doing in terms of the council’s aim to make us the ‘Greenest borough’?

The amount of waste sent to landfill has apparently decreased from 46% in 2005/06 to 31% in 2007/08. However, attending the ‘Recycling Scrutiny Review’ meetings over recent months, I have been concerned about our councillors’ cluelessness about recycling methods. The borough operates a ‘co-mingled’ recycling scheme that means the quality of recyclables is degraded. How much of our recycling is actually recycled is debatable.

Indeed, how much Haringey have encouraged consumers and retailers to cut down on the amount they need to throw away in the first place is debateable. Elsewhere, Green Councillors have introduced branded cloth shopping bags to replace plastic bags, and have addressed the issue of helping shopkeepers deal with large amounts of recyclables.

There is, however, an active Freecycle network in Haringey, where local people can offer unwanted items for free, From settees to hi-fis, bookshelves to kitchen utensils, it is an excellent way of both saving money and the planet. See:

Furthermore, Haringey has a long way to go before it is the ‘Greenest borough’ in that the ecological footprint, per capita, in Haringey is 5.52 global hectares per capita, which ranks only 15th out of the 33 London boroughs.

However, how reliable the Environmental Agency’s report is can be called into question. For example, incidences of Japanese knotweed are plotted on one map. I happen to know that an area of Queen’s Wood (‘Compartment M’) is absolutely overrun with the hard-to-eradicate plant. This is not marked on the map.

Also, it is claimed the incidences of fly-tipping have decreased. This is not the experience I have had on my Homes for Haringey estate in Highgate.

A useful report, then, which highlights the long way Haringey has to go before claiming to be truly ‘Green’. But some of the ‘facts’ are sadly to be taken with a pinch of salt.

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