Chingford News

Incinerator bosses ‘out of control’, IDS tells Parliament

He claimed they are “burning public money on things that are not wanted by the public”
By Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor

Chingford MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith in Parliament yesterday (credit: Parliament TV)
Chingford MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith in Parliament yesterday (credit: Parliament TV)

The bosses behind the Edmonton Incinerator are “out of control”, MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith told Parliament yesterday.

The Chingford and Woodford Green MP questioned why the salary of the highest paid director at LondonEnergy Ltd, the company that runs the incinerator, doubled to £600,000 in 2020.

LondonEnergy is owned by the North London Waste Authority (NLWA), which coordinates waste from seven North London boroughs, which is burned to produce energy at the plant.

The NLWA plans to replace the current incinerator with a larger and more modern facility, which it claims will be “the safest and cleanest in the UK”.

A number of its board members also sit on the board of LondonEnergy, including Waltham Forest Council’s deputy leader Clyde Loakes.

In Parliament yesterday, Sir Iain Duncan Smith told ministers: “This organisation is out of control and will not tell us what remuneration officials who are councillors are getting on that authority.

“Surely we need a debate now about the fact that people are burning public money, literally, on things that are not wanted by the public and will pollute the atmosphere, why can’t we have a debate about it now?”

Anti-incinerator campaigners fear the new plant will further pollute North London’s air and deincentivise efforts to increase recycling, which  has been decreasing in Waltham Forest over the last five years.

Responding in Parliament, Leader of the House Mark Spencer said: “I’m sure that local taxpayers will be very concerned at what my right honourable friend reports to the house and I would be happy to pick this up with ministers on his behalf.”

Sir Iain was referring to the most recently published accounts of LondonEnergy Ltd, for 2019/2020, which show the highest paid director’s salary rose from £313,687 to £619,624.

In response, the NLWA issued a statement today calling Sir Iain “misinformed”.

Their spokesperson added: “The figures quoted… are an anomaly for the financial year 2019-20, due to one Managing Director leaving the company and a new person taking up the role. 

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“Councillors who become NLWA Members receive zero payment for their time, as the position falls under their responsibilities as councillors for their boroughs.

“Three councillors, two Labour and one Conservative, sit on the LEL Board to ensure that the company provides the most effective services for residents.

“They receive an allowance for their time which is comparable to the allowance they receive as councillors. These are registered on their borough register of interests and amount to less than £14,000 per annum.

“Board members do not share in any profits from the business, nor will they ever benefit financially from the decision around the new facility.”

Vice-chair of NLWA and Barnet councillor Peter Zinkin is a non-executive director of LondonEnergy and lists his renumeration on Barnet Council’s website as £13,285 a year. 

Last month Sir Iain Duncan Smith wrote to Michael Gove, asking him to use his power to intervene as minister in charge of the Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing (DLUHC).

He argued the NLWA is failing to comply with its “duty of best value” due to the size and cost of the incinerator.

In addition, he said that Cllr Loakes’ role on the board of LondonEnergy shows a “blatant conflict of interest” due to the profit the company makes from the sale of electricity from burnt waste.

He added: “I believe this is serious mismanagement of public funds, with grave consequences for public health and the environment.”

The NLWA has previously denied there is a conflict of interest as the NLWA is the 100% shareholder in LondonEnergy Ltd.

The NLWA spokesperson continued: “It was disheartening to hear Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP repeat inaccuracies in Parliament about the North London Heat and Power Project, which includes the replacement of a 50-year-old energy-from-waste plant.

“The Government granted permission for the new facility in 2017 and as recently as January this year, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP said in Parliament ‘producing energy from waste is not a bad thing to do’ and ‘the UK needs a mixed and diverse energy strategy’.

“Transforming unrecyclable, unhygienic waste into heat and power, eliminates the need for gas boilers and provides a reliable, non-weather dependent source of energy. Huge advances in technology can now capture and contain pollutants and the new Energy Recovery Facility will be the safest and cleanest in the UK.

“In terms of budget, the project’s cost, which includes substantial new recycling facilities, was set at £1.2 billion in 2019 and remains within this budget.”

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