Chingford Features

First look inside new waste facility under construction near Chingford

Work on the controversial incinerator has yet to begin but the rest of the site is steaming ahead
By Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor

The skeleton of the new Recycling and Fuel Preparation Facility (credit: LDRS)
The skeleton of the new Recycling and Fuel Preparation Facility (credit: LDRS)

The £1.2billion project to rebuild north London’s waste facility near Chingford is steaming ahead.

While work on the highly controversial incinerator at Edmonton EcoPark has yet to begin, construction is underway to build new facilities to process waste before it is either burned or recycled.

Waste from all seven boroughs who form part of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA), including Waltham Forest, is dealt with at the site.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service was recently invited on an exclusive tour of the “60-70% completed” southern part of the site, where waste will be processed.

(Credit: LDRS)

In the centre of the site is London’s oldest ‘energy from waste’ incinerator, built in 1971, which will be demolished once a new facility in the north is completed.

Taking shape in the south is a vast building – known as the Recycling and Fuel Preparation Facility (RFPF) – where each year at least 300,000 of tonnes of waste will be sorted and dispatched for recycling or incineration.

Technical director Doug Kay, described as the “brains” of the site, explained what is being built over the roar of construction work.

Technical director Doug Kay (left) and project manager Neil Murray (Credit: LDRS)

He said: “This project isn’t the highest profile in London but it’s actually really interesting, with high levels of innovation.

“This is probably one of the first [facilities] like this, the Environment Agency brought in a load of new regulations so this stipulates to those regulations.”

Inside the RFPF were large bays separated by tall concrete walls, where the waste will be dropped from outside to be sorted on an industrial scale.

Wood, metal, plastics and construction waste will be sorted for recycling; food and garden waste will be sent for composting; and non-reyclable waste will be prepared as fuel for the new incinerator.


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Waste will be dropped into large concrete bays for sorting (credit: LDRS)

Doug said workers were installing a network of large tubes on the ceiling which will filter dust and bad smells from the air before it is released through two chimney stacks.

In one corner water treatment machinery was being assembled that will take “horrible” pollutants from water draining out of the building before it is released.

New additions to the site, built around the RFPF are a publicly accessible household reuse and recycling centre, a District Heating Energy Centre, a solar-powered and ground-heated visitor’s centre and a replacement base for the Edmonton Sea Cadets.

Although on the same site and powered by “waste” heat from the incinerator, the district heating centre is a separate project being built by Enfield Council.

Heated water will be sent through the network to up to 23,000 homes in Enfield, Haringey and potentially Hackney.

The current incinerator will continue to burn waste until its replacement is complete (credit: LDRS)

Towering over the RFPF, the current incinerator burns about 540,000 tonnes of waste a year, to produce 40 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 72,000 homes.

However, the “cleaner and safer” new incinerator is designed to meet the NLWA’s predicted waste demand by burning up to 700,000 tonnes of waste a year, producing almost double the electricity.

Although incinerating waste instead of recycling it remains controversial, the NLWA estimates it has “diverted” more than 21 million tonnes which would have otherwise gone to landfill.

NLWA planning documents show the large space occupied by the current incinerator is being reserved for “future waste treatment facilities”.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said it approved the incinerator in 2017 and takes a “robust approach” to permitting each plant after consulting the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in each case.

They added: “We will not issue an environmental permit if the proposed plant will have a significant impact on the environment or harm human health.

“UKHSA’s position relating to incineration is that modern, well-run, and regulated municipal waste incinerators are not a significant risk to public health.”

The spokesperson also confirmed it is yet to approve a final permit for contaminated water to be released after treatment on site.


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  • This article provides an insightful glimpse into North London’s innovative waste sorting facility, showcasing its state-of-the-art technology and environmental benefits for the community. It underscores the facility’s role in advancing sustainable waste management practices regionally.