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demonstration by doctors against the edmonton incineratorLast weekend Dr Ed Tranah from the North Middlesex Hospital led a demonstration against the construction of a new Edmonton Incinerator

Environmental campaigners opposed to the construction of a new waste incinerator in Edmonton have this week been pulling out all stops in the final days before the board members of the North London Waste Authority - all of them councillors from north London boroughs, including Enfield - convene to debate the main agenda item - signature of a contract with the Spanish firm Acciona to build the new facility.

The debate around the incinerator project has been covered extensively on Palmers Green Community In particular, opponents cite the high amounts of climate changing greenhouse gases it will emit for five decades, the levels of pollutants toxic to human health that will be contained in the plume from the chimney, its unnecessarily large size, the proposals to import waste from other areas, the loss of large quantities of materials that could be recycled, and the disincentive against moves to increase current very low levels of recycling in north London.

Below is information about some of the most recent initiatives aimed at persuading council leaders and councillors that at the very least the project should be paused while a thorough reassessment is carried out to take account of the many factors that have changed since the project's inception.

Display by Doctors Against the Edmonton Incinerator

Letter to the chair of the North London Waste Authority from Enfield Climate Action Forum

(Also sent individually to all NLWA board members)

encaf logo grey and green

8 December 2021

Dear Cllr Clyde Loakes

Edmonton Incinerator: contract with Acciona

In less than two weeks you will be asked to sign off the contract between NLWA and Acciona to build a new waste incinerator in Edmonton which according to José Manuel Entrecanales, CEO of Acciona is massively oversized, beyond Acciona’s control and, as a waste to energy concept, merely a “transition mechanism”, a “debatable argument”.

Whatever good you have done as a councillor, we consider that your approval of this contract will outweigh it all, condemning the residents of one of the most underprivileged wards in the UK to a lifetime of potentially life threatening pollution from toxic emissions, HGV movements, demolition and construction works.

Not to mention the contribution to carbon dioxide emissions[1] (which we’re sure you’re working hard to reduce in your local authority), the cost to your residents which could be better spent during these austere times and the counterproductive impact on recycling which has not improved in years and is amongst the lowest in London.

We’ve noticed that NLHPP, not content with evasive and misleading publicity, are now resorting to blatant propaganda by, for example, asserting Sir David Attenborough’s approval and appropriating the Earthshot Prize. You will also have received a briefing from North London Waste Authority about their “investment “in Edmonton which “focuses on the climate benefits of upgrading the EcoPark” and just this week the incredible claim that “None of the alternatives offer the same environmental, financial, or social benefits” which are later described as “compelling”. In “focussing on world class emissions control technology” the authors of this barely credible directive still fail to mention carbon dioxide.

It is regrettable, too, that the authors seek to imply that their opponents propose alternatives such as landfill, pre-sort and the export of waste out of Nth London. These arguments are specious. Let’s be clear, the environmentalists who oppose the incinerator have never made such suggestions.

The irony is that, such is the massive oversizing of the incinerator that the NHLPP plans to import waste which, as they indicate in their most recent briefing, will involve “thousands of extra lorries churning out emissions to transport the waste….”. This FOI reveals that waste is already imported which would surprise many residents and might even surprise you.

You can expect more of this propaganda because the NHLPP, after years of obfuscation and of dismissing the arguments, can no longer defend the indefensible.

Remember it all began with the attached  2014 consultation document. No mention of incineration, burning, carbon dioxide, pollution.

No debates at Councils, nothing in manifestos.

Disrespectful responses by Enfield’s Cabinet and NLWA to sincere deputations from residents.

And Acciona partnering with HZI, initially a bidder, how does that achieve value for tax-payers' money when the competitive tender isn’t competitive anymore ? How does it inspire confidence ?

We think, as do many residents, that this is an affront to democracy and to our communities which, by signing the contract, you approve.

Please make a stand, do the right thing by our communities, do what you have been elected to do.

Before signing, please

  • insist on a pause of the procurement process
  • review the most recent evidence and projections of waste arisings and treatment capacity
  • contact the Mayor for up-to-date data
  • ask Acciona to explain why they consider the current plant massively oversized and what they would propose instead.

Francis Sealey


[1] As an aside we’re aware that the NLWA counts biogenic waste eg food waste and garden waste as zero carbon, citing IPCC best practice. But IPCC recently wrote IPCC FAQ Q2.10 A: Do the IPCC consider biomass used for combustion carbon neutral? AnswerThe approach of not including these emissions in the Energy Sector total should not be interpreted as a conclusion about the sustainability or carbon neutrality of bioenergy.” We don’t think that the atmosphere is interested in out of date IPCC advice. Incinerators that burn carboniferous material produce CO2

Motion on the order paper for this week's meeting of Islington Council

Motion 7: Pause and review the Edmonton incinerator project

Moved by: Cllr Caroline Russell, Green Party

This Council notes:

  • Since 2017 the projected costs of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) incinerator at Edmonton have doubled from £650 million to £1.2 billion. 
  • Islington Council will be committed to pay a proportion of these rising costs.
  • There is significant evidence emerging to suggest that the size of the incinerator exceeds projected demand, including a recent comment at COP by the CEO of the firm bidding to build the facility.
  • The proposed capacity was based on predictions of future waste arisings from 2009 which have not proved accurate, and are too high.
  • The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) appointed Arup in 2016 to investigate the effect of applying circular economy initiatives to waste arisings across London. It focused entirely on achieving waste prevention, and found that even with a moderate take-up, the result would be a 30 per cent fall in overall London waste.
  • The NLWA’s Residual Waste Reduction Plan 2020-22 includes an objective “to reduce local authority collected waste arisings in north London, promote resource efficiency and the circular economy, minimise climate impacts and improve the local environment.”
  • There has been a negative impact of increased incinerator capacity on recycling rates in the Western Riverside Waste Authority Boroughs (Lambeth, Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea) where recycling has fallen each year since the Belvedere Energy from Waste plant in Bexley went into operation in 2012. On average these four councils recycling rates went down by nearly 4 per cent from 2010 to 2016, making three of them in the worst six councils for recycling in England.
  • The Environment Agency Pollution Inventory estimates that the incineration of 1 tonne of municipal waste produces between 0.7 and 1.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide [1]. The planned capacity of the new incinerator is 700,000 tonnes of waste per year.
  • To date, financing has not been secured for Carbon Capture and Storage, which remains prohibitively expensive and unproven at scale [2].
  • Burning solid waste does not get rid of it: each tonne of waste that is incinerated produces 15–40 kg of hazardous waste that requires further treatment. Further, incineration leads to airborne emissions of toxic heavy metals and dioxins, spreading them over large distances and potentially exposing large numbers of people to harm [3].
  • Burning waste is a major contributor to air pollution, which is linked to 10,000 premature deaths annually in London – 1 in every 5 deaths. It is recognised to increase rates of life-limiting illnesses including asthma, dementia, heart disease, chronic pulmonary disease, strokes, Parkinson’s and more. The effects of air pollution on children are extremely concerning, and include increased incidence of asthma, stunted lung growth, difficulties with learning and cognitive performance, and increasing rates of mental illness [4].
  • The proposed incinerator would be located in one of London’s most deprived areas according to the English Indices of Deprivation 2019.
  • There is significant cross-party opposition to the incinerator project, including from the MPs for Chingford & Woodford Green, and Islington North. Mayor Sadiq Khan has also expressed opposition to new incineration capacity in London.

This Council further notes:

  • Islington Council has declared a Climate Emergency, and has committed to becoming net-zero carbon by 2030.
  • Islington Council has committed to invest in programmes and initiatives to increase recycling rates and implement circular economy strategies for reducing waste in the borough.
  • Islington Council is committed to fairness and equality in North London and beyond.

This Council therefore resolves:

  • To pause, review and reconsider its support for the proposed NLWA Incinerator at Edmonton.
  • To call on the NLWA to pause and review the project.
  • To work with residents, businesses and organisations in Islington to reduce waste, increase recycling and move towards a circular economy in line with the Council’s commitments to net zero and waste reduction.
  • Work with partners on the NLWA to prepare an alternative plan which properly “promotes resource efficiency and the circular economy, minimises climate impacts and improves the local environment” as per the NLWA’s policy statement on Residual Waste Reduction.

Waste incinerated at the Edmonton incinerator by the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) and London Energy LTD.

Year Waste from north London boroughs members of the NLWA Waste imported from outside of north London
2015/16 490,037 76,871
2016/17 466,037 81,928
2017/18 450,694 80,516
2018/19 449,753 59,762
2019/20 466,525 31,940
  tonnes tonnes
Source: FOI by Georgia Elliott Smith

How much CO2 has the Edmonton incinerator released?

Year Total waste incinerated at Edmonton Total CO2 released
2015/16 566,908 396,835 to 680,289
2016/17 547,965 383,575 to 657,558
2017/18 531,210 371,847 to 637,452
2018/19 509,515 356,660 to 611,418
2019/20 498,465 348,925 to 598,158
  tonnes tonnes CO2 output
Source: FOI by Georgia Elliott Smith / Starve the BeastCalculated based on IPCC 0.7 to 1.2 Mg of CO2 output per 1 Mg of waste.

Take action >>

Written question from Cllr Anne Brown (Green Party) to Cllr Nesil Caliskan, Leader of Enfield Council:

Given the overwhelming evidence against incinerators generally as a method of waste disposal and the scientific evidence that the impossibility of filtering out the smallest particulate pollutants makes them especially unsuitable for a densely populated area, plus the need to focus heavily on recycling and reuse rather than burning of waste, the plan by the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) to replace the current Edmonton incinerator with a much larger one is extremely concerning. Will the Leader confirm that Enfield‘s representatives on NLWA are and will be actively pressing for a pause and review of the project, or its immediate abandonment, in order to protect the health and safety of the residents of Enfield?


There is not ‘overwhelming evidence’ against incinerators. The UK’s Climate Change Committee is clear that they are the preferred solution for managing non-recyclable rubbish on the route to Net Zero. Modern facilities like the one being developed are a proven solution for managing this rubbish in the best way for the environment. A case in point is the sister facility in Copenhagen, which was recently praised in a David Attenborough film as a beacon for sustainable waste practices and an innovative solution to protect the planet. We are proud to bring this same advanced technology to north London. Public Health England is clear that modern, well run and regulated municipal waste incinerators are not a significant risk to public health. In 2019, PHE reviewed their statement on the basis of a major study by Imperial College London and their guidance, based on a clear scientific consensus, remains unchanged. The new Energy Recovery Facility will use best-in-class, proven technology for controlling particulates. Thousands of baghouse filters will be employed to capture particulates, including PM10, PM2.5 and fine particles. This proven technology has been identified by the UK’s Air Quality Expert Group as being particularly effective for controlling particulates and ultrafine particles (UFPs). An independent study from the University of Birmingham in 2016 concluded that, after dispersion and dilution, concentrations of UFPs are typically indistinguishable from levels that would occur in the absence of an EfW. The impacts of not building the NLHPP would be detrimental to north London residents and also in our efforts to tackle the Climate Emergency. It would deny north London’s residents state of the art recycling facilities. It would deny residents a safe, clean, and low-carbon solution for managing their waste in the Climate Emergency. It would deny hundreds of life changing apprenticeship and training opportunities for local people and much welcomed employment to the local economy. Enfield Council is supporting greater emission controls to protect its residents, a solution that will help tackle the climate emergency and which provides our residents with the chance to benefit from low-carbon heating and hot water. The proposed echo project achieves this.

Emergency Motion to the November 2021 meeting of Enfield Council in the name of Councillor Lindsay Rawlings (Conservative)

This Council resolves:

On (8 November 2021), Acciona’s CEO, José Manuel Entrecanales, during a COP26 panel event stated: “The massive oversizing of the [Edmonton] plant is something that is beyond our control. It’s a specific issue of the plant. About the waste-to-energy concept, you would probably agree with me that it’s a transition mechanism — maybe not in London, that is a debatable argument.” Acciona is the only remaining bidder left in the procurement process to win the contract to redevelop the energy from waste (EfW) plant. In response to Mr Entrecanales’ statement - we call on the Administration to carry out the following:

  • Call on the North London Waste Authority to pause the scheme and
  • Call on the North London Waste Authority to review the project taking into account the most recent projections of waste arising, treatment capacity and the finances of the scheme which have doubled from £650 million to £1.2 billion.

Recent press reporting

NHS doctors slam incinerator plans in North London (My London 6 December 2021)

Politicians urged to rethink plans for £600m waste incinerator (Hackney Gazette 2 December 2021)

The new incinerator proposal needs to be scrapped (Camden New Journal 2 December 2021)

Dispute erupts over ‘oversized’ Edmonton EfW (Let's Recycle 10 November 2021)

Haringey becomes first council to demand Edmonton incinerator review (Enfield Dispatch 4 December 2021)

What is the north London incinerator that councils continue to back? (Ham & High 8 December 2021)

Call to 'take a stand' over NLWA Edmonton incinerator (Hendon & Finchley Times 6 December 2021)

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PGC Webmaster posted a reply #6301 13 Dec 2021 14:51

Enfield Dispatch is reporting that two demonstrators were arrested early this morning as environmental campaigners blockaded the Edmonton Incinerator. The blockade is the latest in a series of protests against the planned construction of a larger replacement for the life-expired waste incinerator.

The North London Waste Authority will be meeting on Thursday , when it is due to give the go-ahead for a contract with Spanish construction firm Acciona. Environmentalists have calculated that the new incinerator, due to be in operation for fifty years, will emit 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year if used at full capacity, while there is an urgent need to cut such emissions drastically in order to avoid catastrophic global heating and climate change.

A further demonstration will be held on Thursday outside the building where the waste authority will be meeting (at the Mornington Crescent end of Eversholt Street).

Read the Enfield Dispatch report.

STEPHEN BRICE posted a reply #6302 15 Dec 2021 11:52
An interesting article today in the Waltham Forest Echo about the packing of the London Energy Board with NLWA members (local councillors) and officers.

London Energy is a wholly owned subsidiary of NLWA. In addition, and this is not mentioend in the article, two non-execs, both highly experienced waste professionals, have resigned. One, Paul Wynn, describes his involvement thus:
n December 2016 he joined the LondonEnergy Ltd board, as Chairman Designate, in part, to provide additional independent oversight of their involvement in North London Waste Authority's plans to build a 700000Tpa EFW plant to replace their existing facility.

Here's the link to the article. Illuminating, and IMO another probable illustration of NLWA's zero tolerance of dissent.

The new board plainly rates its CEO highly. In the past 11 months he has earned no less than £619,000, with a near £40,000 pension contribution - annualised that's c £718,000.