Council calls for a halt to North London EfW project over pollution fears

A council has called for a “pause and review” of a major energy from waste (EfW) project in North London over concerns around its potential environmental impact.

An existing EfW plant in Edmonton is due to be demolished and replaced with a larger plant, capable of handling 700,000 tonnes of waste per year. It secured planning permission and an environmental permit in February 2017.

However, the Leader of Haringey Council, Peray Ahmet, wrote to the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) on Tuesday calling on it to pause and review the project, “in particular, to consider whether more can be done to reduce its environmental impact".

The letter states that the council would like the carbon capture element of the facility to be installed from the very beginning and “not in a few years’ time, to reduce carbon emissions”. 

“Before the members of the NLWA take a decision on the procurement it is vital that the authority is absolutely clear that the proposal is the best way to dispose of waste in North London and the environment concerns of residents have been properly and fully taken into account,” the letter reads.

Ahmet went on to say that Haringey along with other North London councils were setting up a forum to work with local communities to discuss the future of waste disposal “with a focus on the concerns regarding the Edmonton facility and methods for increasing recycling rates”. 

Last year a Greenpeace investigation found that new EfW plants are three times more likely to be built, or to be in the planning pipeline, in the UK’s most deprived neighbourhoods than other areas.

A report in 2019 for the mayor of London confirmed that black Londoners are generally more exposed to air pollution. This may account, at least in part, for why a disproportionate number of black people have died from Covid-19, according to the report.

The Greenpeace report cited the Edmonton EfW plant in north London in particular: two thirds of the borough’s population are people of colour.

NLWA has been approached for comment.