Any further attempts to develop Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities in London will be challenged by the Mayor of London and his office, the Deputy Mayor for the Environment has said.
Shirley Rodrigues was speaking at the London Conference yesterday (March 3), where she said that there will be “no need for additional capacity” for residual waste treatment as the focus will be on reducing waste and increasing recycling rates in future.
She stated that the any potential increase in food waste collections, in line with policies set out in the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, would facilitate a need for more anaerobic digestion plants, and that City Hall’s “absolute priority” is on reducing waste.
The government strategy includes an aim to increase recycling and composting of municipal waste to 65% by 2035 while City Hall has set its own target to achieve a 50% recycling and composting rate in London by 2030. The City currently achieves a recycling rate of around 33%.
“We are in a climate emergency and we all must take action, and the waste management sector is a key area to help tackle climate change,” the Deputy Mayor told delegates.
Ms Rodrigues added: “We have also been very clear that anaerobic digestion is a preferable, and more environmentally sustainable route for dealing with food waste, and I should also be clear at this point in our approach to further incineration or energy from waste capacity in London. Our priority is absolutely on reducing the amount of waste and increasing our recycling rate.
“…any applications for new incineration, we believe, could well have the effect of undermining recycling and waste reduction targets we are planning to achieve, and the Mayor and I will oppose them.”Shirley Rodrigues
Deputy Mayor for Environment, London
“Focusing on these and achieving our targets means there is no need for additional incineration capacity in London, other than that which has already been approved. Indeed, any applications for new incineration, we believe, could well have the effect of undermining recycling and waste reduction targets we are planning to achieve, and the Mayor and I will oppose them.”
The Deputy Mayor’s comments appear at odds with some industry experts, who maintain that even in light of policies set out within the national strategy, there is likely to be a capacity shortage for the treatment of residual waste.
Current developments in the capital include a major new energy recovery facility at Edmonton, replacing the facility operated on behalf of the north London boroughs, which will have a capacity of 700,000 tonnes per year. However, the Deputy Mayor has recently commented that a new facility proposed by Cory next to its existing facility at Belvedere in south east London, may not be needed.
Later in her presentation, Ms Rodrigues added that councils in the capital will need additional funding to support the roll out of measures to meet future targets, which include separate food waste collection.
Ms Rodrigues continued: “One of our key priorities is that support is made available now to those who want to, or already have, made changes. Although government has the same recycling target of 65%, it is five years later than the Mayor’s 2030 target. We are also following a similar approach for achieving consistent collections.
“We want to ensure they aren’t at a disadvantage for introducing this earlier, we have written to the government calling for an additional £100 million, and we will continue to make the case that the funding should available, in order to make those rapid changes.”
Following on from Ms Rodrigues was councillor Clyde Loakes, deputy leader at the London borough of Waltham Forest and chair of the North London Waste Authority.
During his presentation, Cllr Loakes welcomed the proposals set out in the government’s Resources Strategy, and called for assurances over future funding levels.
“We welcome the consultations and it is essential these are not watered down after consultations, we have been in that place so many times. My fear is that we could see so much time and money invested into this and come out and see very little delivered.”
Cllr Loakes added: “Whatever comes out of this, it really must provide the funding to deliver this. Nothing short of that will be acceptable to local government, and that must be the key component.”