Campaign against incinerator

How the new Edmonton incinerator will look
How the new Edmonton incinerator will look

Report by Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Campaigners have called for a halt to construction of Edmonton incinerator and urged authorities to consider greener alternatives.

Extinction Rebellion has written to more than 400 councillors across North London, calling for a rethink of the £1.2billion waste-burning plant. As well as Enfield Council, Barnet, Haringey, Waltham Forest, Camden, Hackney and Islington councils are involved in the project. Together with a new recycling centre, the energy-from-waste facility will process up to 700,000 tonnes of waste a year, at peak capacity, by 2051. Construction is due to start in 2022.

North London Waste Authority (NLWA), formed by the seven councils involved in the scheme, says the plant will emit fewer carbon emissions compared to landfill sites, while generating electricity and heat for up to 127,000 homes. But Extinction Rebellion’s letter calls for the project to be paused while an independent review is carried out to look at more environmentally-friendly alternatives. Citing growing public and political opposition to waste incineration, the campaign group has set a deadline of 20th May for councillors to act.

Extinction Rebellion claims the waste-burning plant will pump out around 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – equal to 10% of North London’s total emissions. There are also concerns over air quality, with the current incinerator emitting more than a tonne of particulate matter 2.5 – which has been linked to heart and lung problems – in 2018. The group wants an independent assessment of the scheme to consider its impact on various environmental targets. Alternatives proposed include ‘distributed modular gasification’ – which turns plastics into electricity.

Responding to the campaigners’ demands, a NLWA spokesperson said: “We share the strength of feeling about the need to combat climate change. As a waste authority, our greatest priority is to tackle the climate emergency and preserve resources for future generations. We’re acting now to reduce waste, increase recycling rates, and treat non-recyclable waste as a resource.

“The current energy-from-waste plant at Edmonton EcoPark is coming to the end of its life. Our project to replace it is the most effective and sustainable solution to managing the waste left over after recycling.

“Pausing our plans would be irresponsible, risking up to 700,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste going to landfill in future.”