Northfield Foundry: A Remarkable Story of Community Power and Accountability

An image of Brixam harbour with bight blue, cloudless skies. The water is a sky blue and reflects the harbour. In the harbour there are lots of small fishing boats parked upEnhancing Quality of Life Through Environmental Action

Reaching Out to Brixham Foundry

Northfield Foundry has been emitting hazardous and noxious emissions for over two decades, with the local residence continually raising their voice in protest. Despite multiple warnings and demands to Torbay Council, no meaningful action was taken. In response, in 2019 a citizens’ campaign with the aid of ELF was established to fight for cleaner air in the community. The campaigners sought to build a relationship of trust with Brixham Foundry, as the factory provided much needed jobs and support to the local economy. Unfortunately, their repeated attempts to contact the Foundry were ignored, and faith in the integrity of Torbay Council was broken.

Leveraging ELF’s University Network

One ELF’s great strengths is our connected network of professionals and universities to provide research,  guidance and counsel. During this case, we turned to our university connections for assistance and guidance. With the resources and knowledge supplied from the University of Exeter clinic, the campaign team was able to gather and present a substantial amount of evidence that put immense pressure on Northfield Foundry. The campaigners’ efforts paid off and the Foundry eventually yielded to their demands, agreeing to replace their furnaces with an electric fleet by March 2023. Despite the Foundry’s commitment, the supportive attitude from the local representative in parliament and elected councilors was absent and this lack of support was profoundly disheartening.

Strength in Community

The Northfield Foundry campaign showcased the true strength of the community and the power of collective action. The campaign team demonstrated that citizens can take charge of their environment and pave the way for meaningful change. All of the efforts put in by the campaigners and the pressure put on Northfield Foundry helped bring about improved air quality and better respiratory health for the local community.

This remarkable story is an example of how citizens can work together in pursuit of a cleaner and healthier space. It shows the importance of holding elected officials and corporations accountable and of the collective strength possessed by the community. Thanks to their hard work and tenacity, the Northfield Foundry campaign is a model for how everyone can take action in order to ensure their environment is protected.