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Enfield Over 50s Forum is inviting both members and non-members to a meeting on 31st October when the head of stakeholder engagement at the council-owned firm Energetik will be defending her employer's project to build a district heating network against criticism from a number of angles.

enfield over 50s forum logoMany people who travel by bus or car around some particular parts of Enfield borough, such as Edmonton Green, will, in recent months, have found themselves delayed by extensive roadworks caused by work to install massive underground pipes. These are part of a project which, bearing in mind its large scale, has received a surprisingly small amount of publicity: the creation by the council-owned firm Energetik of a network of insulated pipes, totalling 23 kilometres in length, designed to provide centralised heating to new housing estates throughout the borough, using the heat created by the new and larger incinerator currently under construction just off the North Circular.

In its August/September 2023 members' newsletter, Enfield Over 50s Forum published a front-page article (reproduced below) drawing readers' attention to this project and also raising important questions about its knock-on effects. Not just the serious delays to traffic that it will be causing for several years to come, but also the question of whether it will lock residents of the new housing into a particular type of heating when they might prefer to use environmentally friendlier and quite possibly considerably cheaper sources.

And, of course, the elephant in the room (and it's a big one!) is the new incinerator itself, which is fiercely opposed by environmentalists not only because of the toxins that it will put into the local air, but primarily because they view a facility which will emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases and act as a disincentive to moving towards more recycling and a circular economy, as fundamentally incompatible with the need to curb carbon emissions urgently.

In response to the article, Energetik offered to send a speaker to one of its monthly meetings. The Forum is taking up the offer and the meeting will be at 10.30 on Tuesday 31st October in the Council Chamber at the Civic Centre. Non-members will be welcome (if they're old enough!)

Meanwhile, in its latest newsletter the Forum has included a further article questioning the claim that the planned incinerator-fueled heat network will be "low-carbon".

Heated debate on pipes

A 23km underground heat network is planned for Enfield, meaning years of disruption to traffic and bus routes.

The Over 50s Forum has long campaigned for increased consultation and communication from Enfield Council as it is our borough and our community.

So we have been very surprised to learn from Encaf (Enfield Climate Action Forum) that a 23km long underground network of insulated pipes is due to be installed the length and breadth of Enfield over the next few years.

Their purpose? To convey the water that carries waste heat from the new Edmonton incinerator  (renamed the 'District Heating Energy Centre') in Edmonton 'Ecopark' to homes in Meridian Water, Upper Edmonton, Ponders End, Oakwood, Arnos Grove, Cockfosters and more; even, we understand, to other boroughs.

section of concrete insulated pipe

Pipes will carry heated water from the incinerator

Encaf lobbied hard to prevent the expansion of the incinerator and continues to highlight the negative effects it will have on air quality and the environment, especially in Edmonton, the most deprived part of the borough of Enfield.

The waste heat comes from burning rubbish in the incinerator, which releases 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere yearly, polluting the atmosphere and intensifying the climate and ecological crises.

Encaf says that small scale district heat networks are not necessarily a bad thing, but it has seen evidence that a district heat network of this sort will be vastly bigger than is usually the case if it goes ahead, as seems to be planned. By making thousands of homes across the borough dependent on this heat, the incinerator will need to be continuously fed, despite the fact we are reducing our waste UK-wide. This suggests that waste will need to be brought in from other boroughs to keep the heat flowing.

traffic notice major works hertford road high st en3 until june 2024

The roadworks will last for years

The immediate effect on the community will be the road works involved, the consequent changes to bus timetables and traffic flow, on top of considerable existing congestion, all of which will cause immense disruption to the communities affected.

We can see this already at Edmonton Green, with huge roadworks, one-way traffic and bus diversions along Plevna Road. just behind the shopping centre. Energetik (Lee Valley Heat Network Operating Company Ltd) applied for planning permission for the 23km network and the first 7km was awarded by Enfield's Planning Committee on 28 Sept 2022. The wards affected are Upper Edmonton, Edmonton Green, Lower Edmonton, Jubilee, Ponders End, Southbury and Carterhatch.

Forum members might wish to contact their MP and/or local councillors to ask:

  • Are district heat network pipes going to be installed underground where I live?
  • If so, where, when and for how long?
  • How can I find out exactly what will happen and what opportunities there are to comment?

Source: Enfield Over 50s Forum Newsletter, August-September 2023 (Republished with permission)

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