Chingford News

Councillors behind incinerator rebuild on board of incineration company

The company that runs the incinerator ‘refreshed’ its board early this year
By Victoria Munro

The Edmonton Incinerator (credit: James Cracknell)
The Edmonton Incinerator (credit: James Cracknell)

Waltham Forest Council’s deputy leader and the staunchest defender of the incinerator rebuild is on the board of the company that runs the facility.

The North London Waste Authority, chaired by deputy leader Clyde Loakes, has been planning for years to rebuild the Edmonton Incinerator near Chingford, first built in 1969.

However, the decision to rebuild and expand the facility by almost a third, making it one of the biggest in Europe, has infuriated climate and health activists.

Even more concerning to campaigners is that Cllr Loakes and Barnet councillor Peter Zinkin, the NLWA’s vice-chair, have joined the board of the company running the incinerator: LondonEnergy Ltd.

The pair are two of seven people who were newly appointed as directors of the waste and energy company, which is owned by NLWA, on 20th January.

Waltham Forest campaigner opposing the rebuild, Sarah Eastwood, called his position on both boards “a strange situation” and questioned whether it was “reasonable” to believe he could perform both roles without a conflict of interest.

She told the Echo: “I think that the situation is not transparent. What we don’t know is exactly how much remuneration everybody involved gets.

“It’s not clear whether it’s appropriate for people on the board of LondonEnergy to be part of the decision-making process [of the NLWA] when LondonEnergy will be selling electricity and profiting from the incinerator.”

Following the original publication of this article, the NLWA argued there is no conflict of interest because its interest and the company’s interest “are effectively the same”.

They added: “LondonEnergy Limited is wholly owned by North London Waste Authority. It exists to provide the best value for money for the seven north London boroughs and ensures that the costs of managing waste are minimised for council taxpayers.

“It is also the only waste company to win the Mayor’s Good Work Standard which covers high safety and employment standards.

 “To make sure that it provides the best possible services for residents, a number of councillors are non-executive board members of LondonEnergy Ltd and sit on the NLWA.

“These board members are not employees and ensure the company and the authority are working towards the same aims.

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 “There is no conflict of interest because the company’s interest and the Authority’s interest are effectively the same, as NLWA is the 100% shareholder in the company.

“Councillors on the board declare this through the register of interest at their home council and have a dispensation from their monitoring officer to be involved in debates and votes.”

A spokesperson from the NLWA previously said the board of LondonEnergy was “refreshed” with seven new members “to promote increased coordination between the organisations”.

In addition to Cllr Loakes and Cllr Zinkin, the other five additions are Hackney deputy mayor Rebecca Rennison and senior officers from Hackney Council, Enfield Council and the NLWA itself.

LondonEnergy’s most recent full accounts, submitted at the end of last year, note that its electricity generating capacity is “reliant on maintaining the resilience and availability” of the plant. It also states that all directors must “act in the way they consider, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company”.

Last year, LondonEnergy sold land at the Edmonton Incinerator site to the NLWA for £8.7million and its overall profit for the year, before tax, was more than £12m.

Following the original publication of this article, a NLWA spokesperson insisted the company’s profits go to the NLWA and are used to “minimise the cost of waste disposal”.

The NLWA are spending an estimated £960m rebuilding the incinerator and expect to start construction in the middle of next year.

Responding to concerns from activists opposing the rebuild, Cllr Loakes has previously insisted the plan is the “best solution going forward”.

He previously said: “We need to build a modern replacement facility now or risk residents’ waste being sent to landfill.

“We have looked at the alternatives countless times. The offer that we currently have on the table is the best solution going forward with what we know now.

“We are building what will be one of the most sophisticated energy from waste plants in the UK, if not Europe. We are following what very green and environmentally friendly European countries are doing.”

Protests against the project are ramping up this week as campaigners get ready for a meeting on 16th December, when the NLWA will award the construction contract for the rebuild.

Sarah Eastwood added: “We will be protesting outside that meeting, we want to carry on raising awareness because I don’t think very many people really know what’s being planned on their behalf and with their money.”

A previous version of this article stated Cllr Loakes is “employed” by LondonEnergy when directors are not classed as employees.

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