West London notes ‘518%’ rise in insurance costs since 2016

A report to go before the West London Waste Authority tomorrow (1 December) has noted a 518% increase in insurance costs at the Severnside Energy Recovery Centre (SERC) facility since 2016.

The Severnside Energy Recovery Centre, an EfW plant in South Gloucestershire operated by Suez on behalf of the WLWA

The increase was noted as part of the Authority’s budget for 2024/2025. This explained that insurance for the energy recovery plant will be £1.2 million for the period.

The £1.2 million insurance for 2024/2025 represents an increase from the previous budget, when insurance was £1.4 million for the two years between 2020 and 2022.

And, this is 518% higher than the £223,000 figure for 2016. Insurance for other infrastructure has also been rising, but not been documented yet.

The report notes: “Insurance premiums within the waste industry have increased significantly and in prior years, the Authority was able to absorb this cost.  However, with the increase of fires, floods and heat, the costs are too significant to absorb.  Insurance premiums have increased by 518% since 2016 with general insurance companies finding the waste industry being high risk.

“The insurance market in this industry continues to be challenging due to market rates and insurers appetites deteriorating.”

According to the report some of the key factors causing the rise in insurance rates are fires, floods on railway lines and roads and heatwaves that are causing infrastructure not to be fit for purpose.


The WLWA is responsible for the disposal of controlled waste collected in its area by its six constituent boroughs: Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, and Richmond upon Thames.

Under a PPP contract signed in 2013 that runs until 2041, the WLWA works with West London Energy Recovery Ltd and waste management company Suez to handle and process West London’s waste (see letsrecycle.com story).

The disposal authority’s contract with Suez sees residual treated at the Severnside Energy Recovery Centre, an energy from waste  plant in South Gloucestershire.


As part of the agreement, while responsible for insurance the authority also receives a share of excess revenue generated from the sale of electricity.

For 2023/24, this figure stood at £4.2 million.  This is down from £9.4 million the previous year and £8.1 million rebate in 2021/22.

This rebate will offset the rising costs of inflation and insurance ,  meaning authority levies paid to the authority will rise by just 1.9%.


With a growing number of fires and other incidents being reported in the waste sector, the West London Waste Authority is not alone in seeing a spike in insurance costs.

Earlier this month, Dumfries & Galloway council warned that the cost of insuring its mechanical biological treatment facility will rise by 90%, as “insurers’ appetite to risk in relation to waste facilities has continued to deteriorate” (see letsrecycle.com story).

A similar pictures has been painted across the industry as the number of fires recorded has hit appetite from insurers to take on waste facilities.

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