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  • Writer's pictureHarry Davies

Edmonton Incinerator Expansion

The Edmonton Incinerator Expansion puts the UK's net zero targets at risk and will have far-reaching consequences

Protestors of the ‘Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now’ Campaign. Guardian.

Just months after the government revealed their long-awaited strategy to achieve net-zero by 2050, this target is facing a crisis. Disappointingly, the government are already not following through on their environmental commitments.

Edmonton Expansion

The net-zero plan has come crumbling down due to the Government’s decision to stand by and allow plans to expand the Edmonton incinerator in London by 200,000 tonnes, already the largest incinerator in the country, to go ahead.

The expansion was voted through in December last year by local councillors from the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) in seven North London boroughs; Islington, Hackney, Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, and Waltham, and is set to cost the taxpayer around £1.2 billion.

Impact on Edmonton

This expansion project will undoubtedly have huge consequences for the residents of Edmonton.

The Edmonton EcoPark waste incinerator is situated in one of the poorest areas in the country, where 65% of residents are from ethnic minority backgrounds. Currently, air pollution, which reportedly kills 64,000 people across the UK each year, already breaches legal limits in the area and is clearly only set to get worse.

A recent report, published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Air Pollution, highlighted many health dangers surrounding the plans. Ultimately, their main recommendation was for the expansion to immediately be halted - this has been ignored.

The report revealed the extent of the dangers of the expansion, with Labour MP for Edmonton, Kate Osamor, noting that the plans will damage the lungs of already deprived children in the area.

Government Commitment Criticism

On the top of the clear health concerns, this plan has faced huge controversy and criticism as it directly contradicts the Government’s Net Zero 2050 target – instead of cutting emissions the plan seems to be to increase them!

The NWLA, whose desire to expand is based on their plan to generate energy to heat homes by burning rubbish, have insisted that this is going to be a ‘clean environmentally responsible solution’ for managing non-recyclable waste. Yet, the incinerator is projected to generate around 700,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

This expansion has been met with cross party criticism and concern, with former Conservative Party leader Ian Duncan Smith and former Labour Party leader Jeremey Corbyn, even seeing eye to eye on their opposition. Others against the incinerator are not only made up of MPs, but of GPs, residents, and campaign groups including the ‘Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now’ group.

Despite the dangers to residents’ health, the inevitable rise in CO2 emissions and the enormous pressure against the expansion, the Government have chosen not to intervene.

Instead, they are even continuing to approve more incinerators across the UK. It has been reported by the anti-incineration group - United Kingdom Without Incineration Network - that at least 90 incinerators in the UK and 50 more proposed are in development.

In the face of a disappointing COP26, where the Government had a real chance to make a difference, they seem intent on not facing the environmental challenges before us. Instead, it is just more rhetoric, lies and broken promises.

The Campaign

Nevertheless, it’s not all terrible news!

Dozens of incinerator projects have been stopped in the UK in the past decade due to the amazing work of campaigns. If you want to get involved or learn more about how this expansion can be prevented check out the Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now page - you can find everything you need to know there, it seems they have some great events coming up!

By Harry Davies ©

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