No waste in our back yard—but we’re not Nimbys, say River Lea families

Families in London’s East End can breathe with relief after being told last night that Tower Hamlets council wasn’t going to dump a waste disposal plant on their doorstep.

They were furious at plans earlier this year suggesting eight acres along the Lea River in Poplar could be used for disposal.

The families in Ailsa Street drew up a petition with 1,400 names—but denied being ‘nimbys’ not wanting waste disposal in their back yard.

Petition organiser John Baker, 76, a member of Poplar & Limehouse health network of GP practices, told councillors: “Everyone said ‘no’ at a public meeting opposing the strategy.

“This was no ‘nimby’ outcry. Waste must be handled somewhere and not go to landfill.

“But a massive installation would be starkly inappropriate for a riverside area with three important heritage sites.”

They wanted Ailsa Street to be “a valued place by the Lea that London will be proud to adopt—not a dump all sensible Londoners will rush to abandon.”

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Ailsa Street was only ‘reserved’ as a possibility, families were assured. Tower Hamlets has a designated proportion of waste it must manage within its boundaries, under the GLA’s London Plan.

It had been negotiating with the GLA and Ailsa Street may not be necessary for waste disposal if existing facilities could cope with the waste from a rising population.

Mr Baker told the Advertiser afterwards: “Rivers in cities are to be cherished and not consigned to waste—they don’t grow on trees.”

The campaigners are calling for a broader policy across the East End where any future development must have adequate local management for its own waste disposal. They want more locally-based high-tech waste energy processing rather than dumping it all in one spot.