The Mayor of London has agreed to meet with campaigners opposing the redevelopment of the Edmonton energy from waste (EfW) plant near Chingford.
Sadiq Khan said that while he had “no power” to pause the project, he would ensure operators of all London-based EfW facilities realised the “local and social” impact of their plants.
The North London Waste Association’s (NLWA) existing 500,000 tonnes per year capacity plant in Edmonton is decades old. It is set to be knocked down and replaced with a larger 700,000 tonnes per year capacity facility, with the heat used locally.
Emma Best, a Conservative councillor for Endlebury in Waltham Forest, asked Mr Khan at Mayor’s Question Time on 27 May if he would meet cross-party MPs and campaigners calling for a ‘pause and rethink’ of the project.
In response, Mr Khan said: “I’ve been clear that London is facing a climate emergency and I’ll continue to oppose new incineration capacity in London which is not needed to manage the city’s non-recyclable waste.
“I have no power to pause the scheme nor bring any further legal challenge to this decision. Given this, I’m now focused on making sure this facility and London’s other incinerators realise their local and social impact.”
Pressed as to whether he would meet campaigners, Mr Khan said: “I am more than happy to meet the campaigners, but you need to understand I’ll be honest with them about who’s responsible.”
Mayor of London
Mr Khan has maintained a longstanding opposition to EfW facilities. In May 2019 he called on the government to stop allowing the building of “archaic polluting waste incinerators”. He said burning waste worsened London’s air quality and hindered boroughs from reaching recycling and waste reduction targets.
Mr Khan told the London Assembly at Mayor’s Question Time there had been an unsuccessful attempt to seek a judicial review of the secretary of state’s decision to make the development consent order for the Edmonton plant in November 2019 (see letsrecycle.com story).
He told the Assembly: “It’s very important that we’re clear about who’s responsible for giving permission and for continuing with the incinerator: it’s the government. The reality is we’ve explored all legal avenues open to us including legal challenges, and there aren’t any more left to us.”
Mr Khan said he had switched his focus to ensuring the facility and London’s other EfW plants only managed ‘truly non-recyclable’ waste, maximised electricity generation, captured and used waste heat, and operated within the best available techniques to reduce air pollution emissions.
In response, Cllr Best said: “I can assure you on the Edmonton incinerator the fight is not over. It’s not over for campaigners, it’s not over for cross-party MPs working on this, it’s not over for NHS doctors writing openly about their opposition, and it’s not over for the British Heart Foundation writing openly about theirs.”
The NLWA is made up of seven boroughs in North London: Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest. It is estimated these seven boroughs will generate around 850,000 tonnes of waste by 2025.
In April 2020 the seven boroughs reaffirmed their “ongoing and complete support” for the project amid criticism from Extinction Rebellion (see letsrecycle.com story).
In November 2020 the NLWA said it remained confident the plant would be operational by 2025 (see letsrecycle.com story).