Council defends new incinerator after protesters stage ‘die in’

Stunt comes ahead of large protest march set to be held in Edmonton this weekend, reports James Cracknell

Opponents of a new incinerator in Edmonton staged a protest outside Enfield Civic Centre
Opponents of a new incinerator in Edmonton staged a protest outside Enfield Civic Centre (credit Stop the Edmonton Incinerator)

Enfield Council defended the construction of a new incinerator in Edmonton after protesters staged a ‘die in’ protest in front of Enfield Civic Centre.

Local campaigners from the Stop the Edmonton Incinerator group laid down at the entrance to the council’s headquarters and draped themselves in white sheets alongside signs that said burning waste was “bad for your health, bad for the planet”.

The incinerator, officially called the North London Heat and Power Project (NLHPP), is being developed by North London Waste Authority (NLWA) – but Enfield is one of seven local authorities that sit on its board and will be contributing towards the £1.2billion construction cost.

Opposition against the new incinerator has ramped up significantly over the last two years, with several deputations being made by residents at a NLWA meeting earlier this year. Aurora Yaacov, from Bowes Park, was one of the those protesting at the civic centre last week. She told the Dispatch: “The incinerator will burn 700,000 tonnes of waste and emit 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and that is unacceptable at a time of climate emergency and targets to cut emissions to net zero.”

A contract for the construction of the new incinerator is currently out to tender after planning permission was previously granted in 2017 by the government. A statement from Stop the Edmonton Incinerator called for the council to “stop passing buck” and withdraw its own support for the project.

In response a council spokesperson boasted that the authority had increased recycling collection rates by 1,000 tonnes this year and said: “Although the protest outside the civic centre last week was rather muted, we know that carbon reduction is very important to Enfield residents.

“Enfield Council continues to call on governments and big businesses across the world to take action in creating more facilities, opportunities and technologies that can be harnessed by local authorities to combat climate change effectively.

“In regard to NLHPP specifically, this facility will serve seven London boroughs and is being delivered by NLWA, the statutory waste authority [which is] responsible for the facility.

“Enfield Council is not the planning authority for NLHPP – it required the approval of the secretary of state with a Development Consent Order. NLWA has conducted extensive consultations over the past ten years and a number of changes have been made to the original proposal to further improve the efficiency of the facility.

“We would encourage anyone who has questions about the facility to speak with NLWA and to engage with them proactively.”

Campaigners are also planning a protest march this Saturday. Activists are set to gather at Edmonton Green at 1pm before following a route, led by Extinction Rebellion drummers, to the site of the incinerator in Advent Way. It will form part of a national day of action against waste incineration, with activists set to protest in dozens of cities.

A spokesperson for the march organisers said: “This planned project is unjust and irresponsible. It will lock London into a future of dangerously high carbon emissions and toxic air – or waste precious public money on a white elephant which cannot be used.

“It will also have a discriminatory impact on poorer, predominantly black and minority ethnic communities who live nearby and will be forced to breathe in the life-threatening toxins for years to come.

“We simply cannot afford this project during a climate and ecological emergency. Incineration is not the only option for waste disposal and it is time for the NLWA to abandon these dangerous plans and look for an approach which is fit for the future.”

NLWA argues that the only viable alternative to incineration is landfill, which has a larger environmental impact, and that burning waste is “the most environmentally responsible solution”.