‘Stop allowing new toxic waste incinerators in London’ Mayor tells ministers


The London Waste Edmonton Eco Park in the London Borough of Enfield is the largest incinerator in the UK, and handles unrecycled waste from seven London Boroughs.
  • Sadiq: Another polluting plant ‘the last thing we need’
  • Capital currently has three incinerators – with two more set to open

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan called – on 20 May – for the Government to stop permitting the building of ‘archaic’ polluting waste incinerators as he outlined his opposition to a proposed incinerator in Bexley, which is set to raise harmful NOx pollution levels.

A press release from the Mayor’s office said Khan strongly believes that burning waste in incinerators worsens London’s already toxic air quality and hinders boroughs from reaching recycling and waste reduction targets.

London has the highest incineration rate (54 per cent) in the UK for management of local authority waste, yet the lowest recycling rate (30 per cent).

The focus must be on reducing waste, particularly plastic, and protecting residents from pollution. The Mayor is encouraging boroughs to help residents to recycle food, and stop buying needless plastic bottled water, which should help to reduce landfill and mean that only truly unrecyclable waste (e.g disposable nappies and composite packaging materials that combine card, plastic and foils which cannot be separated) would need to be incinerated.

There are already three incinerators in the capital – Bexley (in the same location as the proposed site), Enfield and Lewisham. Another is being built in Sutton and is due to open this year, while a further plant has been approved for development in Enfield, both of which were approved by ministers during the previous mayor’s terms.

City Hall has seemingly heard from worried Bexley residents and MPs who strongly oppose the plans and are concerned about the impact on the local area. The plant would emit more than four times as much harmful NOx as the existing local incinerator and the Crossness sewage plant combined. It could also emit arsenic, nickel and other metals that could damage the health of residents and workers both nearby and across the river.

The Mayor has reviewed the application by waste management company Cory and disputes claims that the incinerator will generate low-carbon heat and power and meet his minimum CO2 requirement for energy from waste facilities, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and help tackle London’s climate emergency.

There is also insufficient evidence to make the case that there are enough homes and buildings nearby that could use heat generated from the new incinerator. The existing incinerator facility (Riverside Resource Recovery Facility) on the site has demonstrated more than enough capacity to supply sufficient heat for existing and proposed homes and workplaces in the surrounding area.

The Mayor does not have powers to stop the incinerator because final approval for the facility lies with the government.

The Mayor is a statutory consultee and will oppose this application through representations made to the Planning Inspectorate, which will make a recommendation on the application to the Government. Today he outlined his opposition in a report to Secretary of State for Business, Greg Clark.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “London’s air is a toxic air health crisis and the last thing we need, in our modern green global city is another harmful waste-burning incinerator polluting our city. Emissions from incinerators are bad for our health, bad for our environment and bad for our planet. Instead of granting permission for an unnecessary new incinerator that will raise pollution levels in the boroughs of Bexley and Havering, the Government should focus on boosting recycling rates, reducing the scourge of plastic waste and tackling our lethal air. I am urging ministers to reject this proposal.“

‘Stop allowing new toxic waste incinerators in London’ Mayor tells ministers