21 May 2019 by Joshua Doherty

ESA in Mayoral clash over ‘harmful’ London incinerators

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has clashed with the London Mayor Sadiq Khan in a row over the future of energy from waste plants in the capital, labelling the former Tooting MP as “ill-informed”.  

The Mayor released a statement this morning, calling on the government to stop permitting the building of “archaic toxic polluting waste incinerators” as part of his opposition to Cory’s proposed second energy from waste plant in Bexley.

An artist’s impression of the proposed Cory facility at the centre of the dispute

In today’s statement, the Mayor’s office pointed to statistics which said the capital has an incineration rate of 54% but the lowest recycling rate, at 30%.

Mr Khan said: “London’s air is a toxic air health crisis and the last thing we need, in our modern green global city is another harmful waste-burning incinerator polluting our city. Emissions from incinerators are bad for our health, bad for our environment and bad for our planet.

“Instead of granting permission for an unnecessary new incinerator that will raise pollution levels in the boroughs of Bexley and Havering, the government should focus on boosting recycling rates, reducing the scourge of plastic waste and tackling our lethal air. I am urging ministers to reject this proposal.”

He claimed that with three Energy from Waste (EfW) plants in the capital already in place (Cory in Bexley, North London Waste Authority in Enfield and Veolia in Lewisham), and a further two planned (Viridor/Sutton which is almost complete and plans in place for a replacement plant in Enfield), plans for a second facility for Cory are not needed.


In response, Jacob Hayler, executive director of the ESA – the Environmental Services Association which represents the waste management sector – criticised the mayor, saying he is not aware of the benefits that energy from waste plants can bring.

“It is a shame that the Mayor of London is so ill-informed about the role and benefits of energy from waste facilities as part of a circular economy. These facilities are vital for preventing non-recyclable wastes from ending up in landfill”

Jacob Hayler

Mr Hayler said: “Contrary to the Mayor’s statement, the emissions from these plants are among the most tightly regulated of any industrial installations in Europe, and therefore the world.”

He added that the proposed 650,000 tonne development, which has to be approved by the Secretary of State due to its size, would bring investment and jobs to London and would save over 200kg of CO2 for every tonne of material diverted from landfill.

“We sincerely hope, for the benefit of Londoners, that this investment in much needed new waste treatment capacity is granted,” he remarked

The facility which caused the debate is being planned by Cory Riverside Energy, which announced plans in 2017 to build an “integrated low-carbon energy park “at its site in Belvedere, South East London.

The project would mean the construction of a second large energy from waste facility on the south bank of the river Thames. It already has a 750,000 tonne facility on the site.

The Mayor does not have powers to stop the Cory plant because final approval for the facility lies with the Secretary of State, which is currently under consideration.

Also, the Greater London Assembly statement explained that it has commissioned a review of the current available evidence on the local impacts of Energy from Waste on people’s health in London.

This is to “fully understand the problem and Public Health England are working with Imperial College London to research impacts of waste incineration across the UK.”


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