22 October 2020 by James Langley

ESA slams ‘notional’ EfW report

The Environmental Services Association has blasted the authors of a report looking at emissions from energy from waste (EfW) plants for producing an “entirely notional, yet emotive, outcome”.

The report, ‘Health Effects due to Emissions from Energy from Waste Plant in London’, claims the deaths of 15 Londoners per year are attributable to emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from the capital’s five EfW facilities (see letsrecycle.com story).

The ESA says EfW facilities divert millions of tonnes of UK waste from landfill every year

In a statement given to letsrecycle.com today (22 October), the ESA said: “This report echoes the well-established scientific consensus that any health risks associated with modern, well-run, energy recovery facilities are extremely low, if detectable at all.

“It is therefore disappointing that its authors have chosen to extrapolate emissions data to produce an entirely notional, yet emotive, outcome that only serves to raise unnecessary concern and opposition towards a technology that successfully serves a vital public function.”

The ESA is the trade association representing the UK’s resource and waste management sector.


The ESA statement continued: “In accordance with the waste hierarchy, energy recovery facilities divert millions of tonnes of UK waste from landfill every year. Their operation is approved by Public Health England and permitted by the Environment Agency and each plant is only granted a permit if the Agency determines it is in an appropriate location; any and all appropriate risk mitigation is in place; and the plant can meet its permit conditions.

The waste hierarchy  places ‘other recovery’ such as EfW ahead of ‘disposal’ which is described as ‘landfill and incineration without energy recovery’

“In particular, very strict emissions limits are imposed upon them and performance against these limits is monitored closely by the Environment Agency.”


The report was written by Air Quality Consultants Ltd and commissioned in 2019 by the Greater London Authority (GLA), which includes the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. It was published on 26 August.

Alongside studying London’s five EfW facilities, the researchers separately undertook a review of ‘relevant literature’. From this, they concluded that any potential health risks associated with direct emissions from “modern, effectively managed and regulated” EfW plants in London were “exceedingly low”.

Related links

Air Quality Consultants report


It’s bizarre that a report can be written about the impact of EfW facilities on public health when at least two of those plants don’t actually physically exist. What’s more worrying is that the report expresses as fact information and data that is nothing of the sort because those facilities haven’t actually been built.

Posted by Laurenco Marques on October 22, 2020

Consultants have to produce a report to satisy their Client and justify the high fees they charge. It would have been interesting to find out the qualifications and experience of these consultants and previous experience.

Posted by Bonkim2003 on October 23, 2020

What an odd report. It seems to say that if we over-estimate the outputs, make all of them very much worse case, even then we can only show that the total impact is 15 out of around 10,000 deaths per annum. And then doesn’t give any context by which to judge the assertions.

One can’t help wondering why this report is being presented in this way?

Posted by Howard Ellard on October 26, 2020

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