Sutton Courtenay Roadmap

The Roadmap below was kindly supplied by one of Oxfordshire’s campaign groups, Sutton Courtenay Against Incineration (SCAI). This offers an excellent starting point for any local campaign group looking to oppose incineration and promote more sustainable forms of waste (resource) management. UKWIN would like to receive comments and suggestions about anything that might be added to build on this “Roadmap for victory”

BEATING INCINERATORS –ONE PROTEST GROUP’S ROADMAP
SUTTON COURTENAY AGAINST INCINERATION (SCAI – OXFORDSHIRE COMMUNITIES LTD)

Waste Recycling Group (WRG) proposed a 300,000 tpa incinerator for its landfill site in Oxfordshire in 2008. This plan appeared to have everything going for it: a large existing landfill program, a sympathetic council, and an unsuspecting local populace. Yet, in July 2010 WRG finally withdrew their last permit application. In the face of an intransigent council management committee, a steam-rolling company and a remote regulatory authority the community defeated the proposal………….HOW?

ROADMAP

1. Get the local community organised and behind the protest and expand out from there.
2. Develop the political contacts.
3. Maximise publicity.
4. Form technical subgroups.
5. Educate the wider community to participate.
6. Bombard the regulators., e.g. the Environment Agency
7. Get the financial details out in the open.
8. Pressurise the directors.
9. Use UKWIN,FOE and other campaign information.

1. Local Community Organisation
• Form a management committee from competent local people.
• Try to include Legal, Financial, Environmental. Media expertise.
• Have regular public meetings to raise funds, inform, and arouse publicity.
• Recruit surrounding communities to blueprint your own actions.
• Develop a professional Powerpoint presentation to educate and inform communities.
• Get the surrounding parish councils involved by professional presentations.

2. Political Contacts and Publicity
• Get the local MP(s) on side and informed. Use their media reach for public meeting publicity.
• Try and get a local celebrity involved to raise the protest profile.
• Hold Council site protests at council meetings to get stories in the press, then maximise comments to the press to hold the story on press websites.
• Form your own accurate website to counter company claims, educate, develop an on line petition, and publicise the issues.
• Contact all the County Councillors, the District Councillors and their staff to find sympathisers and assistance to combat the pro-incinerators on the council. Educate them with the counter arguments.
• Speak and ask ‘Questions for answer’ at every possible Council meeting and Subcommittee meeting, accompanied by an external protest for publicity.
• Make Formal Submissions to District and County Council Planning meetings
• Send Christmas cards to all councillors with a ‘message’ – ( e.g. Santa crashes in incinerator smoke)
• Involve children in your publicity…they bear the greatest risk. If possible get a separate children’s petition.
• Use your petition progressively, then re-use it again and again as it gets larger.

3. Technical Subgroups
• Make an early decision to recruit and pay an expert planning consultant to prepare Planning objections and assist with research.
• Form an Environmental group, an Hydrology group, an Alternatives group, a Legal Resource, a Technology group. A Publicity group, a Medical group, and a Financial group to research and format the information needed to counter the proposal even if these consist of only one person each.
• Critique the companies’ planning application and its environmental application and formally open dialogue with the planning departments and the regulators- EA and HPA – over faults, mistakes, misinformation, and downright lies in the applications.
• Get company track record, environmental permit infringements record, plus any legal actions and publicise this in the media and to councillors by email.
• Examine the funding, the company financials, the cost to the taxpayer and the council’s error strewn track record on capital proposals to highlight penalties to the taxpayer of long term capital contracts and PUBLICISE the penalties both to taxpayers and councillors.
• Make the regulators work for you not the company by starting technical liaison Meetings.
• Get as much medical consequence background research as possible for the website, for publicity, for councillors etc. Make it as accurate as possible.

4. Educate the wider community
• Use your petition signing weekends in surrounding areas to get contacts for Public meetings where you can use a Powerpoint presentation.
• Get local parish councillors to your petition days.
• Recruit subgroups to get signatures to a standard petition…but with a local area heading.
• Print pamphlets showing the consequences which have occurred at existing incinerators.
• Talk to schools….children are great publicists and enthusiastic environmentalists.
• Petition outside schools and then recruit parents to publicise the protest.
• Try and involve doctors in the petition and letter writing by giving local GPs the results of your medical research.

5. Bombard the Regulators.
• Regulators have to be pushed on side. Publicise their contact points and get locals to write demanding action, criticising faults in applications etc.
• Then use this to ask for regular liaison meetings to highlight flaws and present formal
Requests for information and progress.
• Arrange a meeting with the appointed planning inspector and Environment permit inspector and then keep after them to regulate.
• Write both to the London Department heads and to the local area office heads requesting action.
• Contact HPA – Health Protection Authority, PCT – Primary Care Trust, EA – Environment Authority
As the primary regulators and get them involved in Community liaison meetings at which you can run the agenda as community representatives. Always try and have a formal presentation at these meetings to which they will have to respond at a later time. Without this the company will run the permit process to their benefit.
• Don’t let the company ‘salami slice the permit process’ by making part submissions, unlinked Planning and EA permit submissions, etc. Demand that the regulators force the company to make proper and transparent applications and that the regulators responses are open and transparent and conform to proper planning process.
• Try and get company faults, regulatory failures etc. on the agenda so that the regulators have to address these. It is particularly difficult to get proper medical information from HPA etc. but this may be crucial to your publicity efforts elsewhere.
• Don’t let them off the hook – regulators work for you not the company making the permit application.
• Now involve other statutory and non statutory bodies. Campaign to Protect Rural England, Special Site agencies etc. with the same actions.

6. Financial Information
• Try and get details of the Council capital proposals and look for long term financial risks.
• Look at other incinerator contracts to expose these.
• Look at the financing of the plant build – is the central government giving low interest taxpayer funds to the company while the company gets a taxpayer funded long term contract at the other end….double risk.
• Look at the companies’ financial viability and its technical ability( is it in-house or bought in).
• Use all of the above to publicise taxpayer risk to the wider public and to sympathetic councillors and planning subcommittee members.

7. Pressurise the Directors
• Tell the main board directors the community objects and will go on doing so.
• Advise them that even if the incinerator is built the community will be monitoring and heavily Involved in regulation.
• Warn them that medical legal action could arise against them and the company.
• Tell them their reputations will be at stake.
• Form a company of your protest group to underline your legal status.

Plenty of groups have won their battles against the government sponsored incineration program, but the key is to win it early on before it becomes legal and expensive.

Use UKWIN’s huge expertise as well as other group’s accumulated information.

SCAI have several resource bases which we will happily forward.
Contact d.j.mckenzie@hotmail.com

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