Our fears over new incinerator

How the new Edmonton incinerator will look
How the new Edmonton incinerator will look, as seen from the Chingford side of the River Lea

A campaign has been launched against the construction of a new waste plant near Chingford, writes Louise Krzan

Household waste has to go somewhere, but in this era of climate change protests and ultra-low emission zones, we have a huge opportunity to develop sustainable, clean, environmentally-friendly waste solutions for the future.

So why, as the current Edmonton incinerator comes to the end of its life, has the government agreed plans to replace it with one of the largest incinerators in Europe? The Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now campaign aims to challenge this decision.

The proposed new incinerator, branded an ‘Energy Recovery Facility’ (ERF), is the brainchild of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA). Estimated as costing taxpayers around £650million, it could lock us into burning 700,000 tonnes of waste, much of it recyclable, every year for the next 30 years. A study last year by the UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) estimated one tonne of CO2 was emitted by incinerators for each tonne of waste burned.

Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now is a campaign started by concerned local mothers from Chingford and Walthamstow. Worried about the air pollution children are already exposed to, an incinerator rebuild also locks future generations into huge carbon emissions without fully exploring the alternatives. Despite using advanced emission filters, incinerators still contribute considerable amounts of harmful toxins, pollutants and ultra-fine particles into the atmosphere and the monitoring results are not adequately open to public scrutiny.

The more we looked into this, the more the decision to build a new incinerator seemed like an archaic way to deal with waste. The planned incinerator contradicts the Mayor of London’s pledge to increase London’s household recycling rate to 65% by 2030. Imagine how far just half of that £650m would go if spent on education and support for residents and businesses with low rates of recycling?

The incinerator’s high capacity and financial viability depends on a constant supply of waste to burn, which, combined with generous government subsidies – as evidenced by other boroughs with incinerators – actively discourages investment in recycling and other more sustainable forms of waste management.

The Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now campaign, supported by UKWIN, is raising awareness and providing information to locals about what the incinerator rebuild would mean for them and to challenge the notion that incineration is the only way to deal with London’s waste.

For more information on the Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now campaign:
Visit stop-edmonton-incinerator.org