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Last week's meeting of the board of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) brought together a rather unusual coalition of politicians, all setting out arguments for a review of the project to build a huge new incinerator (aka Energy from Waste/EFW plant) on the North Circular in Edmonton. There were politicians from the Conservative Party (none less than Iain Duncan Smith, former party leader), Labour Party (Kate Osamor, a Jeremy Corbyn associate not normally on the same side of an argument as IDS), Lib Dems and Green Party, plus other environmental campaigners. They set out a wide-ranging series of arguments for a rethink, at times passionate, but throughout based on reasoned and reasonable premises. However, all dissenting points were given short shrift by NLWA chair Clyde Loakes, who asserted his superior powers of leadership and responsibility, confident that he knew best.

But does he know best? And are the NLWA's plans based on sound data? Not so, according to Stephen Brice, chair of the Pinkham Way Alliance, a campaigning group which has studied the question in great depth. This week he has published an open letter to Clyde Loakes, pointing out a "serious error" regarding a key question when calculating required waste processing capacity - the amount by which "waste arisings" will increase - or fall - over time. Stephen's letter is published below.

An open letter to the Chair of the North London Waste Authority

Dear Councillor Loakes,

At one point during the 25th June NLWA meeting you defended the huge capacity of the new EFW by stating that the Authority must take into account ‘… the future growth of North London’. The only inference that the casual listener – and perhaps your colleagues on the NLWA Board – would have drawn from your comment is that increased population / households will produce more waste..

As you know, any forecast should be based on up-to-date available data. In N London we’re fortunate enough to have this to hand in the Joint Waste Strategy (JWS) that you signed in 2009, and its Annual Monitoring Reports (AMR), for whose accuracy you as Chair presumably take responsibility. The JWS stated:

'The increases in population, number of households … suggest that patterns of waste growth in North London are likely to continue during this Strategy’.

In the 2018/19 report there is a chart plotting number of households against waste ‘arisings’ which tells a very different story.

household waste arising forecast

This shows that although households (red line) have increasedby c 25%,as forecast, household waste arisings (blue line), so far from reflecting this, have fallen by c 12%.

Yet the 2018/19 AMR, identical to every available AMR, states that:

The continued increases in population and the number of households in London suggest that the amount of waste generated is likely to grow over the remaining period of this Strategy.

This is self-evident twaddle. Are you aware that, when one opens any of the available AMRs including that for 2018 / 19, the title is identical: ‘Annual Monitoring Report 2013/14’?

No-one has apparently bothered to look at the text for years, hence the twaddle.

Your NLWA tenure has been notable above all for its inaccurate forecasting. There can’t be many public authorities that negotiate for two years plus, to buy a piece of land for a specific 30-year purpose, a purpose evaluated by millions of pounds worth of professional advice, only to find 18 months after purchase that the professional forecasts underpinning it are so wide of the mark that the purpose is no longer justifiable.

You made a serious error in your statement last Thursday. It’s unclear whether you intended to mislead or that you simply don’t actually know enough about the business of the Authority that you chair.

Either way, you need to set the record straight publicly. The best place to do that is surely in the responses to the points raised by last Thursday’s deputees that the Authority has promised to publish.

With kind regards,

Stephen Brice
Chair - Pinkham Way Alliance.

A video recording of last week's meeting is still available on the Camden Council website. The meeting starts with the seven deputations mentioned at the start of this article and I would recommend watching them all and the responses from Cllr Loakes. Francis Sealey has edited down the dialogue between Cllr Loakes and Cllr Vicki Pites from Enfield - see below.

Here is the complete recording of the meeting, other than the confidential parts of the meeting:

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Basil Clarke's Avatar
Basil Clarke posted a reply #5401 04 Jul 2020 23:40
The meeting of the waste authority was reported in various local papers. Notably, the headline in the Hackney Gazette and the Ham & High referenced the comment about Clyde Loakes being "extraordinarily rude" - a comment which in my view was completely justified.



The Hackney Citizen carries a report by Local Democracy Reporter Ed Sheridan , who in a single sentence paints a picture of the breadth of the opposition to the incinerator and the wide range of concerns:

Former Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith joined forces with Labour & Co-operative Edmonton MP Kate Osamor and Green London Assembly member Caroline Russell to speak out against the North London Heat & Power Project (NLHPP), raising health, climate, social justice and financial concerns.


There is a telling quote from a doctor who represented one of the deputations:



As doctors we work daily to save lives. By making a decision to pause and review this incinerator [the NLWA] will save more lives than we will in our entire careers.


The Waltham Forest Guardian uses a report from another Local Democracy Reporter , which gives greater emphasis to the defence of the project by Clyde Loakes, who as well as being chair of the waste authority is leader of Waltham Forest Council.
Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #5402 08 Jul 2020 12:40
The fundamental pieces driving the approach to waste in north London are currently all active. While the future still remains unclear that position should now be changing.

The planned Edmonton Incinerator for residual waste has been well covered variously across this site: go ahead, pause and reflect, or cancel and rethink in the light of the rapidly evolving knowledge of risks relating to climate and air quality. We will know soon enough.

That leaves recycling, and in particular the land at Pinkham Way, which the NLWA have long sought to designate for waste use via the NLWP. Exactly what for is their secret but in submitting to the NLWP inspector they indicated that without its inclusion the whole north London waste plan would be unsound, ie completely scuppered. That is a massive bet. (I think it's scuppered anyway as presented but that’s a different story.)

However it’s not going to be straightforward, for as the second attachment in my post on 9 June under “Campaigners reject waste authority incinerator claims” reveals, the approach being taken in the draft NLWP means that the bigger the incinerator and the more waste is imported to feed it, then the case for land at Pinkham Way erodes (disappears). That’s a circle they need to square for we do know the incinerator is planned large.

Now, in a follow up to my press letter - posted here on 10th May - suggesting the waste strategy (the present one expires this year), the waste plan (13 years in development and still going fast to nowhere) plus the incinerator debate all be pulled together, I highlight a further issue: the draft NLWP can’t go forward for inspection without a new waste strategy. Under the approach taken over the last 13 years that's a circle which can’t be squared away.



It means yet more delay but it will also mean transparency re the plans for Pinkham Way. It will highlight just what the recycling ambition for north London is and how it is proposed to be delivered.

Will it be as high as the Mayor's London requirement of 65%? If so, residual waste levels will be much smaller, so why have Edmonton so large?

Or will it be only 50%, or even below as the original Edmonton plan assumed? If so, why do we have so poor a recycling performance versus the remaining three quarters of London?

Not much management credibility however that particular circle gets squared.

All will be revealed. We simply have to sit back and watch, and watch we will.
Michael Ryan's Avatar
Michael Ryan posted a reply #5403 08 Jul 2020 15:40
Edmonton incinerator was the first of eleven incinerators that started operating in the 1970s and ONS data show that infant death rates in the Councils exposed to emissions all rose after the following incinerators started operating:
Edmonton, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Nottingham, Kirklees, Bolton, Sheffield, Newcastle (Byker), Birmingham (Tyseley) and Stockton-on-Tees (Billingham).

There is no evidence to support the prevailing opinion that incinerator emissions don’t harm health, whilst ONS data supporting the opposite view is both consistent and overwhelming.

Those thinking "Oh, but incinerators are different these days" should look at ONS data in recent years as infant mortality rates have also suddenly risen at council level after incinerators started operating in Peterborough, Plymouth, Exeter, Shrewsbury, Splott (Cardiff), Four Ashes (Staffs), Hartlebury (Worcs), Runcorn (Halton), Belvedere (Bexley), Greatmoor (Bucks), and Newhaven.

Infant mortality rates suddenly fell in both Torfaen and Malvern Hills after incinerators closed down in Pontypool, in 2002, and Hanley Swan in 1995. The above aren't just a long list of random events, but precisely what should be expected after massive increases or reductions in exposure to toxic PM2.5 emissions.

See page 8 of my Nov 2017 EFRA submission for infant mortality rates around Edmonton incinerator.

data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/joint-inquiry-into-improving-air-quality/written/73685.pdf
PGC Webmaster's Avatar
PGC Webmaster posted a reply #5408 08 Jul 2020 23:29


Edited extracts from the waste authority meeting, focussing on the cases made by the nine deputations who were requesting a pause and review of the incinerator project.
PGC Webmaster's Avatar
PGC Webmaster posted a reply #5425 15 Jul 2020 19:45
The latest group to suggest that residents contact their councillors regarding the planned new incinerator is Fox Lane & District Residents Association (FLDRA). Their latest newsletter included the following:

Concerns about health impact of new incinerator on North London, as Waste bosses resist calls for independent assessment

On 25 June the Board of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA), the public body set up to manage the waste arising from Enfield, Barnet, Camden, Haringey, Hackney, Waltham Forest and Islington Councils, discussed a multi-million pound project to replace an existing waste incinerator (just off the A406) with a huge new plant. Environmental scientists and campaigners believe that the plant will pour into our air harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases, but the NLWA denies it. At the 25 June meeting the NLWA Board heard evidence from local Conservative and Labour MPs, from medical doctors and from councillors, all of them worried about the health consequences for people living in North London, and for climate change in general.

Many of those who watched the meeting, which was streamed live, were shocked at the attitude of the Chair who appeared to belittle and dismiss the concerns raised. The speakers unanimously asked for an independent review to assess the true impact of the project, but the Chair, without allowing any discussion of the representations made, announced that the Board would not allow a review. The Enfield members of the Board, who voted in favour of the scheme, have ignored requests and questions from FLDRA. A request to the Enfield Cabinet to receive a deputation from local environmentalists this July has also been refused.

Concerns remain that:

• The size of the plant is well above what is likely to be needed, especially as the drive for recycling gathers momentum. Instead of reducing the size of the proposed new incinerator to take account of recycling targets, the NLWA decided to change its remit so that instead of managing local domestic waste only as originally planned, it will now also manage commercial waste and waste trucked in from up to 50 miles around. The bigger the volume of waste burnt, the higher the volume of carbon dioxide poured into the air.
• The cost of the project has almost doubled, from £650 million to £1.2 billion, a debt burden on the councils. Is this use of taxpayers’ money justified at a time when we are facing the impact of the Covid19 crisis?
• North London already has very high pollution levels. A study published last month showed that the release of metals from waste incinerators located in urban areas results in increased concentrations of potentially toxic metals, with related health risks. [1] Another study suggested that pollution may contribute to a higher rate of Covid19 deaths. [2]
If you would like to support the call for a “pause and review”, please write to your Ward Councillors or MP.

[1] International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health; Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 1919; doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061919

[2] Linking Air Pollution To Higher Coronavirus Death Rates, www.hsph.harvard.edu/biostatistics/2020/04/linking-air-pollution-to-higher-coronavirus-death-rates/