Earlier this summer during the unprecedented heatwave, McDonald’s ‘refurbished’ their car park, and Mr. Rashid – the franchise owner, oversaw the felling of 11 mature trees (thought to be more than 50 years old), installing plastic grass where they had stood.
Real Media reported on the summer protest, linking it to the corporate greenwashing around the issue of continued deforestation in the Amazon. Then we followed up with new evidence that the environmental destruction in Haringey may have actually been part of a wider plan to remove vegetation near many more McDonald’s outlets. Despite repeated inquiries, McDonald’s have been unwilling to deny the existence of these plans.
Removal of the 11 trees was not mentioned as part of the original planning application for refurbishments, which Haringey Council approved. Real Media contacted the Forestry Commission, who have since investigated the destruction. They were unable to proceed with a prosecution under the Forestry Act, as the amount of timber lost fell just under the statutory level.
After sustained pressure from campaigners, Mr. Rashid last week offered to plant 8 new trees on the narrow pavement outside the outlet, with a further 4 elsewhere on Green Lanes. This has not satisfied campaigners, who held a further return protest outside the fast-food venue on Saturday, which Real Media filmed.
Saturday’s event came at the end of a week of protests outside the UK HQ of McDonald’s at East Finchley.
Every morning the entrance to the building was barricaded by fencing and patrolled by security guards, while protesters held banners, made speeches, and handed out thousands of leaflets to the public. Watch this film of Monday’s protest by our colleague, film-maker Jo Syz.
On the second morning, the main protest theme was McDonald’s greenwash over recycling initiatives. Campaigners claim that because the food and drinks containers placed in recycling bins are food-contaminated, they will actually end up in the north London incinerator at Edmonton (already the subject of protests over expansion plans). Instead they are calling on the corporation to show a lead in encouraging re-useable packaging, with discounts for people bringing their own. Thanks again to Jo Syz for this second film.
Real Media joined the morning picket on their final day, where we interviewed an ex-worker who described exploitative pay and conditions at the fast-food outlets, and we also spoke with campaigners concerned about the enormous amount of single-use plastic that McDonald’s introduces to our environment throughout the planet.
The expanding use of plastic grass is seen as a biodiversity disaster. At a time when our natural environment is already facing multiple pressures, campaigners are calling for a ban on sales of artificial turf.
The Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is committed to eliminating avoidable plastic waste, but has so far failed to intervene. If you are concerned by the proliferation of this artificial monstrosity, there is a letter to DEFRA which is open to signatures at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeb93IK31okxkBBMboGaIVrkcjB7pkrnCVxoc5nY30qdItyQw/viewform
Read our original report on McDonald’s and deforestation here.
Find out more about Haringey Tree Protectors here.