Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Council leader defends incinerator rebuild

Council leader Grace Williams publicly backed plans to rebuild the Edmonton Incinerator

Hero for Council leader defends incinerator rebuild
A protest against the incinerator rebuild outside a full council meeting (LDRS)

The leader of Waltham Forest Council defended controversial plans to rebuild the Edmonton Incinerator after a protest last week.

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) plans to start work rebuilding and expanding the facility next year, to the fury of local health and environmental campaigners.

Protests have been ramping up ahead of a crunch meeting on 16th December, when the NLWA will award the construction contract for the £960million project.

Campaigners opposing the project demonstrated outside the last full council meeting on 9th December, alongside Turkish Cypriots angered by the council's promise to never again raise the flag of disputed state Northern Cyprus after a fiasco last month. 

Read more: Two arrested after blockading incinerator site

At the meeting itself, resident Amir Jones asked the borough’s leaders not to “rush” approval of the new plant when there are a “disconcerting number of unresolved issues”.

He said: “Surely the council should be examining whether ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ policies should represent better value for money, including new advanced mixed waste and plastic recycling technologies.

“Chingford, Highams Park and Waltham Forest are all close to and downwind from the plant. Studies have linked incinerators to increased rates of infant mortality and that is what we find in Chingford.”

Amir also warned the new incinerator’s capacity is likely to be much higher than the seven London boroughs needs, which would result in waste being imported from elsewhere.

A protest march along the North Circular earlier this year (Extinction Rebellion)

However, council leader Grace Williams supported the plan for the new plant, arguing it’s the best way to “manage the climate emergency, prevent landfill and reduce emissions”.

At the council meeting, Cllr Williams told Amir: “It will generate enough electricity to power 127,000 homes and heat up to 50,000 local houses and businesses - that’s extraordinary.

“Since planning was granted by the government, other [incinerators] have been built and none meet the criteria this does. We must take this decision now, we can't leave it until it’s too late.”

Cllr Williams added that the new incinerator would “run at lower levels” if capacity was low, rather than import waste from other boroughs or countries.

In a written answer provided to councillors after the public meeting, she wrote that “advanced emission controls” and the height of the chimney stack mean pollutants at ground level “will be small”.

The current incinerator was built in 1969 (James Cracknell)

She added: “For the large majority of the year the [incinerator]’s contribution is expected to be effectively zero and the predicted concentrations are well below the limits of detection. 

“It would only be for a few hours in a year that its contribution would be measurable, and this would be at level of less than 2% of the current relevant air quality standard for all but a few hours each year.”

Recently, the leader of Haringey Council, Peray Ahmet, called for the NLWA to pause and reconsider the project.

In a letter to the NLWA's managing director, she wrote that the community "wants to do more recycling" and worries a bigger incinerator will create "an incentive to produce more waste".

She wrote: “I am asking the North London Waste Authority to consider a pause and review of the project and, in particular, to consider whether more can be done to reduce its environmental impact."