Parliament’s vote in favour of the Heathrow third runway has intensified the search for a replacement site for the Lakeside energy-from-waste (EfW) facility, which would be demolished as a result.
Transport minister Jo Johnson told MPs in May that the Government did not regard the plant as a strategic asset, and any replacement would be a commercial matter between Heathrow Airport and joint owners Viridor and Grundon.
Lakeside is part of the Colbrook complex that also includes a MRF and a high-temperature incinerator.
The main EfW facility processes 450,000 tonnes a year of non-recyclable waste, primarily from the West London Waste Authority and adjacent council areas. It generates 37MW of power and directly employs 200 people.
Grundon said it would work in close partnership with Heathrow Airport to secure a replacement of the Lakeside EfW and associated facilities at Colnbrook.
A statement from the company said: “Grundon and Lakeside are seeking to replace these facilities with minimum disruption at the earliest opportunity, on a like-for-like basis at a nearby suitable site.”
Adam Afriyie, Conservative MP for nearby Windsor, told Parliament in May that relocation costs would be £500-£700m and said he doubted Heathrow could afford this.
He said any gap in service would be “enormously harmful due to the inability to process the levels of waste that it is contracted to process” and that relocation would take at least five years, assuming “there will be no objections to people having an incinerator and a waste processing plant located near their homes”.
Johnson said the departments for the environment and business had “assessed that the loss of the plant would not impact the UK’s ability to meet environmental targets on either a regional or a national basis.
“For these reasons, it is the Government’s view that the Lakeside EfW plant is neither a strategic energy nor a waste asset. With no regulatory or policy reason to replace the plant, it would not be appropriate to mandate that it should be replaced.”
Replacement was therefore considered a commercial matter for its owners and Heathrow in which the Government would not intervene.
Labour London Assembly member Leonie Cooper, who has campaigned to retain Lakeside EfW, told MRW: “I would suggest that Heathrow should pay for the entire cost of relocating the Lakeside facilities, including any additional access infrastructure, because the relocation is entirely down to the expansion and for no other reason.”