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North London Waste Authority decides to end procurement process

Sep 27, 2013
The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has decided to end its procurement for long-term waste management services.

The Authority now believes that a less expensive solution to waste management for north London taxpayers can be found in a time when council finances are under enormous pressure.

Pursuing a less expensive solution will help boroughs limit the impact of waste management costs on council tax.

This change in approach is due to changing circumstances, including recent developments in the planning policy situation in north London.

An alternative strategy will be based on continued use of NLWA’s existing Edmonton facility. A longer term strategy will explore bringing additional benefits to local people through a new energy recovery solution to take over from the existing facility that will continue to provide electricity for the national grid and could provide the potential to supply heat for local homes and businesses.

This decision will not impact on joint targets which remain in place to achieve a 50% household recycling rate and to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill to 35% (of 1995 amounts) by 2020.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair, NLWA, said: “These are tough times and we have to do everything we can to protect services. That means ensuring every decision we make offers real value for money. This decision will save north London money in the short to medium term, and could save us a total of up to £900 million (note 2) over almost 30 years.

 “Fundamental changes to local planning policy were confirmed this summer and in the light of those changes we asked for more work to be done on a range of matters – part of this work confirmed that with some additional capital expenditure our current facility at Edmonton can run up to at least 2025.”

Two key planning policy documents (note 1) were adopted in May and July of this year which fundamentally changed the Authority’s ability to secure planning permission for a long-term energy recovery facility for north London’s non-recyclable waste at the Edmonton EcoPark site.

Having looked at the outcomes of the procurement and this change in planning advice, members asked for further technical assessments of the existing energy from waste facility in Edmonton. This work confirmed that the existing facility can remain operational until at least 2025 with some relatively modest capital investment.    

Members have therefore decided to end the procurement process, and to pursue an alternative strategy that, by comparison, will result in a significant reduction in the cost of residual waste management. This strategy will be based on continuing to use the energy from waste facility at the Edmonton site for longer than previously planned, and developing a longer term strategy based on an energy recovery solution at the Edmonton site.

The money saved will allow boroughs to both limit the impact of waste management costs on council tax, and to be taken into account by boroughs in terms of delivering services, in this time of extreme pressure on local authority finances.

A long-term energy recovery solution would have additional benefits, in relation to the aspirations of local authorities in the Upper Lee Valley, including London Borough of Enfield, and the Mayor of London for a decentralised energy network in the area, by providing the opportunity for electricity to continue to be made available for the national grid, and for the potential for heat to be made available to local homes and businesses. The strategy also means that the Authority is getting the best value it can from this long-standing and reliable facility at Edmonton.

Assuming that the Authority can secure planning permission for suitable residual waste management facilities at Edmonton, it now has no immediate plans to develop the Pinkham Way site in Haringey for such use. However, Pinkham Way will remain an asset for NLWA due to its strategic location and planning designation as a potential employment site.

Councillor Loakes said: “We are very grateful to bidders for their hard work and commitment to the procurement process - this decision in no way reflects on the quality of the bids received or the commitment of bidders themselves. It’s simply the case that the Authority has stepped back and reassessed its options to find a less expensive solution to its waste management in these difficult times for council finances.”

Notes to editors:

1. The planning position on and favourability towards an energy recovery solution changed as a result of the publication of the London Mayor’s Opportunity Area Planning Framework (OAPF) for the Upper Lee Valley in July, and has been confirmed by the adoption of LB Enfield’s Edmonton EcoPark planning brief in May. In its planning brief, LB Enfield refers to the Authority’s Edmonton site in the following way: “The Edmonton EcoPark will be a flagship facility for waste management. The use of the site will be optimised to provide enhanced and sustainable waste treatment facilities in order to extract the maximum benefit from the resources in waste in a way which minimise impacts; deliver wider social, economic and environmental benefit; support broader regeneration opportunities; and is a key catalyst in the development of a heat network in Central Leeside and the wider Lee Valley area.”

2. There is a good prospect that the Authority will achieve substantial long-term savings by ending the procurement and pursuing an alternative strategy for managing north London’s waste in the long term. Modelling shows that the Authority could pay up to £900m less in waste management costs over the life of the contracts (27 years) being procured through the procurement process, particularly if the Authority does not use private finance. This is equivalent to £33 million a year, however, this figure will depend on the Authority’s final approach to any alternative strategy, including its approach to funding. What is particularly important is that by pursuing this alternative approach at a time when there is immense pressure on north London’s borough finances, the Authority will avoid the need to substantially increase its costs in the short to medium term.

3. The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) is made up of seven north London boroughs (Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest).

4. Some 1.7 million residents live in the NLWA area and the Authority is responsible for helping the seven north London boroughs manage approximately 846,000 of waste a year.

5. The North London Waste Plan (NLWP) is a spatial planning document prepared by the London Boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest in their capacities as local planning authorities, and is completely separate from North London Waste Authority. Please note that NLWA is not responsible for preparing or submitting the NLWP, and is only a consultee to the process, along with many other organisations. The Edmonton EcoPark site is an existing and therefore protected waste management site under the Mayor of London’s spatial strategy, the London Plan. The London Borough of Enfield as the local planning authority has also adopted a site specific Planning Brief, Supplementary Planning Document for the EcoPark site which sets out the opportunities and constraints for the development of new waste management and other facilities on the site and sets out the principles which these should follow. The new NLWP therefore has less relevance for the Edmonton EcoPark and the Authority’s plans for development there than it would do for a new waste site. Enquiries regarding NLWP should be directed to Camden Council’s press office.

6. For more information, please contact Hannah Paten, Communications Manager, on 020 8489 4360 / 07964119993 or