Jon Cruddas MP writes a monthly opinion piece for the Romford Recorder. This month (June 2020) Jon has shared his thoughts on the campaign against the Belvedere waste incinerator, air quality, human health and the climate emergency. The column is due to be published on Friday 12 June, but in light of World Environment Day 2020 Jon has agreed with the RR to share today (June 5). See below.

*STARTS*

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone to find that there has been a dramatic improvement in air quality during this crisis as people are being forced to find alternative ways of working. Whilst Covid-19 has posed the biggest challenge in a generation it will pass - and when it does, we will still have many other issues to contend with such as the climate emergency. 

As with all events that impact the way we live, there has to be a period of reflection when we are on the other side of Covid-19. Climate change, air quality, and the health implications of pollution in general need to be part of that discussion. I have been campaigning against a second mass waste incinerator at Belvedere for two years now and the fight isn’t over yet. Every report has shown conclusively that this development will be damaging to air quality, human health, and biodiversity across the south of my constituency in Rainham and South Hornchurch. 

Yet despite the evidence against this application the incinerator was approved in April by the Tory Government. Since its approval I have been exploring other ways to challenge the Government on this issue, and thankfully the Mayor of London has now requested a judicial review of the decision at the Planning Courts. 

In light of the impact coronavirus has had on those with pre-existing respiratory conditions it beggars’ belief that the Government approved these plans. Moving forward we must consider the best way to protect people against pandemics, and it seems to me that improving air quality and the general health of all citizens is a good place to start. Waste incineration of this scale is counterproductive to achieving a cleaner, greener, and healthier Dagenham and Rainham. 

*ENDS*