Mayor to meet incinerator campaigners

Sadiq Khan agrees to meeting but warns he has no power to cancel new incinerator, reports Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter

The new energy-from-waste (EFW) incinerator in Edmonton will generate electricity as well as burn waste from seven London boroughs
The new energy-from-waste (EFW) incinerator in Edmonton will generate electricity as well as burn waste from seven London boroughs

The mayor of London has agreed to meet with campaigners opposing plans to expand Edmonton incinerator.

London Assembly member Emma Best, who is also a Conservative councillor in Waltham Forest, asked Sadiq Khan at Mayor’s Question Time last week if he would meet with local MPs calling for a “pause and review” of the project.

The current incinerator, which is set to be knocked down and replaced with a larger facility, is situated beside the River Lea in Edmonton. It is run by North London Waste Authority (NLWA), which represents seven London councils and is chaired by Waltham Forest Council’s deputy leader, Clyde Loakes.

At an NWLA meeting last June, Cllr Loakes said that pausing the £1.2billion project to increase the incinerator’s capacity by 200,000 tonnes is “simply not an option”.

Responding to Cllr Best’s question, Sadiq Khan said: “I have been clear London is facing a climate emergency and will continue to oppose new incineration in London.

“I have no power to pause the scheme but I am now focused on ensuring this facility minimises its local and social impact and only manages truly non-recyclable waste.

“It’s important we are really clear on who is responsible for giving [this scheme] permission; it’s the government. The reality is [the mayor’s office] has explored all avenues open to us.

“I am more than happy to meet with campaigners but I will be honest with them about who is responsible.”

Cllr Best, who was elected to the London Assembly for the first time in May, assured the mayor the fight against the rebuild is “not over”.

She said: “It’s not over for campaigners, for cross-party MPs, for NHS doctors or for the British Heart Foundation and it appears it’s not over in your office either.”

The new incinerator will process up to 700,000 tonnes of waste a year, generating electricity and heat for up to 127,000 homes, but also increasing air pollution.

In 2019, Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now attempted to trigger a judicial review of the project, but their request was unsuccessful. In response to the pledge from the mayor the campaign group tweeted: “We’ll assemble a formidable crew and look forward to our trip to City Hall!”

Addressing NWLA last July, Chingford GP Rebecca Redwood implored members to pause the project. She said: “As doctors we work daily to save lives but by making a decision to pause and review this incinerator, you will save more lives than we will in our entire careers.”

“Air pollution causes around 40,000 deaths per year in the UK. Health problems resulting from air pollution cost the UK more than £20billion a year.

“The incinerator will release ultra-fine particulate matter that cannot be filtered. There has been no modelling of the plumes of pollution and no health impact assessment conducted on short or long-term exposure to the plumes.”

Responding to her and others’ concerns at the meeting, Cllr Loakes said: “The offer that we currently have on the table is the best solution going forward with what we know now.

“Doing nothing, pausing, is simply not an option, you can’t continue to fudge it and kick it into the long grass.

“We are building what will be one of the most sophisticated energy-from-waste plants in the UK, if not Europe. We are following what very green and environmentally friendly European countries are doing.”