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A future without incineration

Oct 15, 2008
The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has today announced plans which would see a move away from traditional incineration and landfill in favour of a more sustainable approach to managing waste in the area.

The Authority, in partnership with the seven north London boroughs (Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest), is rethinking the way in which household waste in the area is managed. 

A new long term approach that prioritises waste prevention, reuse, recycling and recovery over sending waste to landfill and incineration is being sought. 

Speaking today, the Chair of the North London Waste Authority, Councillor Clyde Loakes said:

"The NLWA is seeking a 21st century solution to managing waste in the area. 

"As an Authority we believe that prioritising waste prevention, reuse, recycling and recovery over current disposal methods will enable us to manage our waste in the most affordable and environmentally friendly way we can.

"We hope that this approach will not only help us reduce north London's carbon footprint but will also enable us to offer our residents the best possible solution for managing waste into the future."

In north London approximately one million tonnes of waste is produced every year, currently only 24% of this is recycled, the rest is either incinerated (40%) at the Edmonton incinerator in Enfield, or goes to landfill sites in the Home Counties(1) (36%).

The aim is that by 2020 north London will be meeting tough regional, national and European waste targets and will be achieving:

  • a 50% recycling and composting rate (double the existing rate); and
  • a reduction in the amount of waste sent for disposal to landfill from 36% to 15%;

Like authorities across the UK the NLWA must meet these targets or face being heavily penalised. In order to meet these targets new waste facilities are needed. 

The new plans have been developed to ensure north London has the necessary facilities in place when its existing waste disposal contract comes to an end in 2014. They form the basis of a business case which members of the NLWA(2) will be asked to formally approve in a meeting on 29th October.

The business case sets out the Authority's plans for dealing with waste in north London and the facilities it needs to effectively do so. It also acts as an application for millions of pounds of financial support3, which will help the Authority cover the cost of the new facilities.

If approved by NLWA members on 29th October, the business case will be sent to government for consideration.

The proposed plans for north London include:

  • four new and refurbished household waste and recycling centres (sometimes called "civic amenity" sites);
  • two new materials recovery facilities to sort metal, plastics, glass, paper and cardboard so that they can be recycled;
  • composting and anaerobic digestion facilities; (anaerobic digestion is the process that turns  biodegradable waste into biogas which can be used to create electricity)
  • two mechanical biological treatment plants to treat waste which cannot be recycled to create fuel;
  • a combined heat and power plant that uses that recovered fuel instead of fossil fuels; and 
  • a sustainable transport solution involving rail and/ or water transport.

The Authority has begun to look at where new facilities will be located and has considered sites across all seven north London boroughs. Although it is too early to know the exact location of these sites it is looking likely that they will be located in the Hendon and Upper Lee Valley areas.  Commercial negotiations are however still under way.

Both these fall within areas identified by the Mayor of London, in the London Plan, as suitable for waste facilities. These areas also fall within the North London Waste Plan(4) which has been through various stages of public consultation.

Further information on sites will be made available as negotiations progress.

- Ends -

Notes to Editors

1) Space in landfill sites is fast running out. There are currently only three years left before all landfill space in the east of England is filled up (at the current disposal rate, according to the Environment Agency).

2) The NLWA is made up of 14 councillors, two from each of the seven North London boroughs (Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest). It is these 14 councillors that ultimately make decisions relating to the disposal of north London's waste.

3) The NLWA will be applying for financial help through PFI (Private Finance Initiative) credits. PFI has been used to pay for new schools and hospitals and is increasingly being used for funding new waste facilities.  What it means for north London is that we can get financial help for investment in much needed facilities, easing the burden on local tax payers. 

4) The North London Waste Plan is the land use planning document being developed by the same seven north London boroughs in their role as planning authorities to tackle all waste produced in North London (not just household waste as in the case of the NLWA). The North London Waste Plan is a completely separate process from the NLWA. For more information go www.nlwp.net.

About the North London Waste Authority

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) was established in 1986 and is the waste disposal authority for Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest. This means its primary function is to arrange the transport and disposal of waste collected by these boroughs.  It is the second largest waste disposal authority in the country.

The waste disposal costs are split between the seven boroughs through a levying system. The system is worked out based mostly on the amount of waste disposed (in tonnes), which means the more each borough delivers to NLWA, the more it has to pay.