Incinerator contract ongoing as Lib Dem amendment voted down

People march along Fore St in a protest against the Edmonton Incinerator on 16.01.22.

People marching along Fore Street in a protest against the Edmonton Incinerator - Credit: Polly Hancock

The process of finalising the contract for the Edmonton Incinerator is ongoing into the latter half of the week, beyond the January 18 date widely understood as the final day for signing. 

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA)is due to sign the contract with Spanish infrastructure company Acciona.

However it said that there was never a specific date formally earmarked to sign, and so the continuing process does not qualify as a delay.

The Edmonton Incinerator has received fierce opposition since the plans were first proposed.

Campaigners estimate that the 700,000 tonnes of waste it will be capable of burning could lead to the release of 700,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.  

The NLWA however says the new development will power around 127,000 homes due to its ability to generate around 70 megawatts of electricity. 

It also claims it will cut carbon emissions compared to the current plant, while also diverting waste from landfill.

Even so, concerns have been raised about how much other, greener schemes have been considered, with some campaigners arguing that better alternatives are available

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The signing of the contract is occurring against the backdrop of Haringey Council leader Cllr Peray Ahmet having written a letter to the NLWA board for a second time on January 17. 

In it, she outlined concerns around issues such as carbon capture and storage while also calling on the authority to work with the north London boroughs to try and improve recycling rates. 

She also detailed a few coproducing initiatives that she believes the NLWA and the boroughs should be engaging with together, including receiving funding from the NLWA to support hyper-local recycling groups and to develop and implement a new joint waste management strategy for north London. 

Cllr Peray Ahmet, leader of Haringey Council

Cllr Peray Ahmet, leader of Haringey Council - Credit: Haringey Council

At a heated extraordinary full council meeting on the same evening, January 17, the Lib Dems’ were voted down by Labour as they attempted to pass an amendment to their own motion calling for the pause and review of the Edmonton Incinerator. 

At the meeting, Labour’s amendment to the Lib Dem motion, which included removing the call for a pause and review, were passed with 20 in favour, 15 against and one abstention.  

A subsequent Lib Dem amendment attempting to reinstate it was however voted down, with 15 in favour, 20 against and again one abstention. 

During the meeting, Cllr Scott Emery (Lib Dem), Haringey opposition spokesperson for the environment and the proposer of the motion, described the plan for the incinerator as “a disastrous idea, one that will cause long-term harm for those residents”. 

He pointed towards the size of the new development and the expected surplus in incineration capacity, saying “essentially, this could all be for nothing. It could be a massive waste of money, with it either not being needed, or banned outright for future climate aware governments”. 

Cllr Emery, and others including Cllr Tammy Palmer, a Lib Dem councillor for Crouch End, also raised the potential environmental impacts of the project as reasons to back the party’s motion. 

People gather on Edmonton Green on 16.01.22. before a rally and march along Fore St against the Edmo

People gather on Edmonton Green on January 16 before a rally and march along Fore Street against the Edmonton Incinerator - Credit: Polly Hancock

In response, Cllr Ahmet struck back over accusations from Cllr Palmer of the “classist and racist” implications of the incinerator project going ahead, saying she “won’t take any accusations of classism and racism from the opposition” and claiming the council is focussed on ensuring the Edmonton facility is “safe for residents”. 

In tabling Labour’s amendment to the Lib Dem motion, she said its intention is to “hold the Edmonton facility to the highest environmental standards”. 

Included is the belief that “there is currently no good alternative to burning non-recyclable waste at the volumes north London produces”, and that the council resolves to “insist that the NLWA accelerate the carbon capture and storage element of the plans”. 

In a statement to the Ham&High, Cllr Clyde Noakes, chair of the NLWA, said: “We welcome Haringey’s commitment to working with us to ensure the new Edmonton Energy Recovery Facility meets the highest environmental standards.  

“As we’ve made clear throughout the project, our Energy Recovery Facility will use cutting edge technology to reduce air pollution and tackle the climate emergency and we will make sure the standards, which are the most stringent in the UK, are delivered.”