Two arrests as climate protesters blockade Edmonton incinerator

Protesters blockade the Edmonton incinerator site

Protesters blockade the Edmonton incinerator site this morning - Credit: Extinction Rebellion

Climate protesters blockaded a north London waste burning facility as part of an ongoing campaign against its planned rebuild.

As part of protests taking place this morning - Monday, December 13 - the group prevented lorries carrying waste from entering the EcoPark incinerator site in Edmonton.

Campaigners also blocked access to construction vehicles beginning preparatory work to build a larger plant which they deem “environmentally destructive”.

North London Waste Authority (NLWA) is seeking to expand the capacity of the existing site, which dates back to 1969 and burns the waste of the Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest boroughs.

Construction is set to begin mid-next year on the controversial new incinerator that is 30pc bigger and expected to operate until around 2075.

NLWA chair, Waltham Forest Cllr Clyde Loakes said: “It is our duty to protect public health from unhygienic waste, so we are building a new facility with the highest possible environmental standards to deal with black-bin-bags and using the energy generated to provide low carbon heat and power for 127,000 homes."

The project, described as an energy recovery facility by the NLWA, is expected to cost £1.2bn.

Initially priced at £650m, the expansion is also set to include a community centre and a recovery facility for recycled waste.

Designs for the new energy recovery facility

Designs for the new energy recovery facility - Credit: NLWA

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This morning, Sarah Eastwood, a spokesperson for the campaigners, said: “We are here to tell our councils and the NLWA that we will not accept this incinerator.

“It is bad for the planet and bad for our communities - local people deserve better. 

“We won’t stop campaigning until our elected representatives pause to get an independent review of the plans, and conduct a genuine, inclusive and democratic local consultation.”

Camden, Barnet, Islington and Hackney councils recently reiterated support for the plans while Haringey has called for the project to be paused and reviewed amid environmental concerns.

However, Cllr Loakes said: “The new facility will be among the most advanced in the world and use Selective Catalytic Reduction technology to convert the nitrogen oxide created by incinerating the waste to create energy, into water and nitrogen, which is a harmless gas that makes up 78pc of the Earth’s atmosphere. 

“It will also save the equivalent of 215,000 tonnes of CO₂ each year - which is as beneficial as taking 111,000 cars off the road – compared to sending the waste to rot in landfill.”

Today's protest was another step in a long-running campaign which activists say has featured legal challenges, letter writing, a council tax strike and street protests.

It follows a protest outside Islington Town Hall after NLWA rejected calls to pause the project and a demonstration march from Edmonton Green station to the site in September.

The NLWA board, which is made up of two councillors from each of the seven boroughs, is expected to approve the plans at meeting on December 16.

It is likely to appoint Spanish-based multinational Acciona to carry out the rebuild after other potential contractors dropped out.

Activists associated with Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter and Stop the Edmonton Incinerator were among those blockading the roads to the plant this morning.

Met Police were called to the site shortly after 6am and two people have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass, a spokesperson said.

Cllr Loakes accused the protesters of "causing unnecessary environmental impact".

He said: "By 10am today, hundreds of tonnes of waste had already been collected from north Londoners’ homes by thousands of our colleagues.

"Our staff, who are essential workers, are now having to divert their focus from dealing with this black-bin-bag, contaminated waste in the most hygienic and environmentally responsible way possible to handling logistics to safely divert all this rubbish to alternative locations.

"This will greatly increase lorry movements on borough roads, causing unnecessary environmental impact."

He added that much of the waste will need to be sent to landfill where it will rot, which will release methane. 

“Methane is a greenhouse gas, which has a warming impact up to 34 times greater than CO₂,” Cllr Loakes said.