Dispute erupts over ‘oversized’ Edmonton EfW

The CEO of Acciona was placed in an uncomfortable position at COP26 after being asked whether the proposed Edmonton EcoPark energy from waste (EfW) plant is “massively oversized”.

The NLWA's proposed new EfW plant at Edmonton, North London

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) is believed to be voting on whether to award the contract for the construction of the 700,000-tonnes-per-year capacity facility to Madrid-based construction company Acciona, the only remaining bidder, on 16 December 2021 (see letsrecycle.com story).

During a panel event on 8 November, an anti-incineration campaigner asked José Manuel Entrecanales, Acciona’s CEO, whether his company would withdraw from bidding for the “massively oversized, locally opposed incinerator”.

He replied: “The massive oversizing is something that’s beyond our control, so 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, but in a great portion of the world it is the only possible solution for the time being.”

Today (10 November), the NLWA branded the campaigner’s question an “ambush” and suggested she had used “a series of exaggerated and misleading statements”.

The tender process to build the plant was launched last year and is valued at £683 million. Acciona confirmed to letsrecycle.com that it was bidding for the project.

‘Only green solution’

When contacted by letsrecycle.com, the NLWA said the Edmonton EcoPark represented the “only green solution for north London’s unrecyclable waste to tackle the climate emergency, prevent rubbish going to landfill and reduce air pollution”.

Mr Entrecanales used the same language expressed by the activist when responding, which was presented as fact but is unsubstantiated and incorrect

– NLWA

A spokesperson said: “Opponents of the scheme are making it appear as though the response Mr Entrecanales provided recognises an over-sizing of the new facility, that it cannot filter dioxins and that it may be inappropriate for London. These statements are untrue and were never expressed as Mr Entrecanales’ opinion.”

They added: “Mr Entrecanales used the same language expressed by the activist when responding, which was presented as fact but is unsubstantiated and incorrect. All arguments presented to Mr Entrecanales have been thoroughly studied and considered in the decision to rebuild an energy from waste facility which was given consent by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in 2017.”

The NLWA said it was working with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to ensure that the Edmonton facility minimised its environmental impact by only managing “truly non-recyclable waste”, maximised the heat and electricity generated, and employed Best Available Techniques (BAT) to minimise air pollution. It added that it worked with the Environment Agency and that the mayor was writing to the environmental regulator to ensure emissions were closely monitored.

Edmonton

The NLWA’s existing 500,000-tonnes-per-year capacity plant in Edmonton is decades old. It is to be knocked down and replaced with the larger facility, with the heat used locally. The new plant is scheduled to be operational in 2025.

The redevelopment will also see the construction of a resource recovery centre and a “reuse and recycling centre” to enable the public to bring waste directly to the site, and a visitor centre.

‘Fit for purpose’

In an open letter written on behalf of XR Zero Waste and Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now, campaigner Tania Inowlocki called on politicians including Camden councillors, the North London Assembly, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, and MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Tulip Siddiq to “look to Camden to lead the way in calling for a waste treatment strategy that is fit for purpose”.

The campaign groups make several demands. They ask the politicians to:

  • 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;
  • and, ask Acciona to explain why they consider the current plant massively oversized and what they would propose instead.

Ms Inowlocki said: “The sizing of the plant may be ‘beyond the control’ of Acciona, which has not drawn up the tender process for the plant, but surely it is not beyond the control of the North London Waste Authority and its board members.”


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