Campaigners urge north London incinerator bidders to pull out

An artist's impression of the North London Heat and Power Project

An artist's impression of the North London Heat and Power Project, with the Edmonton incinerator in the background - Credit: North London Waste Authority

Campaigners have urged companies to pull out of bidding for the £683m contract to rebuild an incinerator for north London’s waste.

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) – which deals with all of the rubbish from Hackney, Islington, Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Waltham Forest – plans to start work to rebuild and expand the Edmonton incinerator next year.

The existing plant - which dates back to 1969 - is coming to the end of its operational life and NLWA says it needs to be replaced with a new "energy recovery facility" (ERF).

It would generate energy to heat homes by burning rubbish, avoiding landfilling, which produces more carbon dioxide than incineration. 

But campaigners from Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, Black Lives Matter and Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now are concerned that what would be one of the biggest incinerators in Europe could soon become obsolete and lock north London into decades of low recycling rates, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

MP Iain Duncan Smith is concerned about the harmful effects the particulate matter emitted from the incinerator might have on the health of his constituents in Chingford and Woodford Green, which is downwind from the incinerator.

He is seeking a review in Parliament after the cost of the whole project skyrocketed from £650m to £1.2bn.

Carina Millstone, from Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now, has written to bosses at three foreign companies which are shortlisted to submit a detailed tender to rebuild the incinerator, alerting them to the "immense and vehement opposition this project faces on a local and national level".

In her letters to bosses at CNIM, Acciona and Hitachi Zosen Inova asking them to pull out of the tender process, she has warned them the "controversial contract carries a high risk of delays, cancellation, legal action and damaging your reputation".

She added: "There is the public consensus that this incinerator will facilitate and perpetuate an unsustainable way of life, increase climate change and cause serious air pollution.

"We have a strong and organised campaign against the build, including our community group Extinction Rebellion, who closed down London for two weeks.

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"With several highly problematic UK incinerator projects and new and untested technology, the public eye will be firmly on any such build." 

Ms Millstone, whose group failed in its bid to halt the project in a High Court challenge, also pointed out research from the mayor of London’s office which shows the incinerator would create 950,000 tons overcapacity for burning waste in north London.

She said: "We want to highlight to them that it's not guaranteed by any means that this project will go ahead, and in our view it's a risk to their businesses to bid."

This newspaper has contacted each of the three firms to ask whether they are having second thoughts, but did not receive a response. 

Construction on different £100m recycling facilities at what the NLWA has dubbed Edmonton EcoPark started a month ago. 

An artist's impression of what the North London Heat and Power Project's public reuse and recycling centre will look like 

An artist's impression of what the North London Heat and Power Project's public reuse and recycling centre will look like - Credit: North London Waste Authority

These new facilities are designed to help increase north London’s household recycling rates from 30 per cent to 50pc.

A new community centre called EcoPark House will provide both a new home for Edmonton Sea Cadets and a community education space to promote recycling.

The works mark the start of the first major phase of construction on the £1.2bn North London Heat and Power Project, of which the incinerator is planned to form a part.

The NLWA said the incinerator would be a "catalyst for the local green recovery".

"The ERF contract is expected to deliver at least 90 local apprentices and a substantial number of onsite-training placements, while focusing attention towards local employment and local expenditure and providing significant opportunities for local businesses and the local supply chain," said a spokesperson.

"The ERF will use the most advanced emissions-control technology, making it one of the safest and cleanest of any UK facility.

"It is part of the mayor of London’s Environment Strategy which is clear our project is needed to manage north London’s non-recyclable waste into the future."