Charith Gunarwardena, Green Party councillor in Southgate Ward, presented one of the deputations to the meeting of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) on 16th December calling for the NLWA to 'pause and review' the commissioning of a new and larger replacement for the existing waste incinerator at the Edmonton 'Eco-Park'. Regrettably, the majority of the councillors on the NLWA, representing seven north London boroughs, chose to ignore the strong arguments put forward at the meeting and voted to award the contract for construction of the new incinerator.
Enfield Green Party continues to be totally opposed to the construction of a new incinerator, which will have multiple negative consequences, both environmental and economic, including:
Cllr Charith Gunarwardena's deputation to the North London Waste Authority
Thank you, Chair, for the opportunity to make this deputation today. I am a councillor at the London Borough of Enfield and a member of the Green Party.
What I would like to initially address is the fact that your individual boroughs are unlikely to have carried out adequate risk analysis and mitigation for you to safely make a decision today.
This project would commit each individual borough to nearly £200 million of capital and interest payments for decades to come.
As a member of Enfield Council’s Regeneration scrutiny panel and also its Environment scrutiny panel, I certainly know the required due diligence has not been carried out. And this situation can harm the NLWA.
To award the contract today, you would have needed access to high levels of independent expertise to balance the interests of not just the NLWA but also the residents who have elected you.
Has the NLWA supported and encouraged your local councils to carryout a comprehensive independent risk assessment of the Incinerator’s impact on your individual boroughs?
As far as Enfield Council is concerned, I know it has not been carried out, so you need to pause and review this project.
There are substantial risks posed by this project both to NLWA and to individual boroughs. Let me give just one specific example.
Enfield Council has already invested well over £60 million in its own energy company, called Energetik.
Energetik has recently signed a long-term agreement with the NLWA.
The agreement is that the energy and heat created by the burning of waste at the Incinerator will be used by Energetik to supply heat to tens of thousands of homes via its Community Heat Network.
Energetik’s business model is therefore dependent on the continued burning of waste at the Edmonton Incinerator.
So what happens if the amount of waste is successfully reduced and recycling targets are met?
Where will the heat needed for Energetik’s heat network come from, if the council’s stop creating enough waste to burn?
It seems to me that Energetik’s business model is flawed because it is dependent on the continued burning of waste at the Incinerator, which in turn relies on either
- the council’s failing to meet waste and recycling targets, or
- waste that could be recycled being burnt, or
- waste being brought in from other council’s, with all the problems that brings in terms of transportation
The issue here is that these competing risks have not been properly or independently scrutinised and understood by Enfield Council and this work needs to be undertaken before any further decisions are made.
The other problem is that Energetik’s business model is also dependent on long term exclusivity deals with huge new housing developments, such as Meridian Water.
What this means in practice is that the households at Meridian Water will have to continue using the Energetik heat network – and therefore the heat created by the burning of waste - even where there are more environmentally friendly and potentially cheaper solutions available.
In other words, the business model of Energetik specifically restricts the adoption of alternative and more environmentally friendly energy solutions.
Again, the issue here is that these risks have not been properly or independently scrutinised by Enfield Council.
I know that the Council is under huge and mounting pressure to press ahead with the Incinerator because of the very large investment it has made in Energetik, but this pressure needs to be set aside for the time being.
A proper independent analysis of all the risks can then be undertaken by each individual council. And that is in the best interest of the NLWA.
Under these circumstances you cannot award the contract today and need to immediately pause and review this project.