Claims made by London mayor Sadiq Khan that the capital does not need any more energy-from-waste (EfW) plants has been blasted by the Environmental Services Association (ESA).
Khan is opposing plans by Cory Riverside Energy to build a second EfW facility in south-east London, and has called on the Government to “stop permitting the building of ‘archaic’ polluting waste incinerators”.
Khan said he wants to see more recycling, and that London has the highest incineration rate at 54% in the UK for local authority waste, and the lowest recycling rate of 30%.
Opposition to Cory’s plans to build another facility at its Belvedere site has centred on concerns about nitrogen oxide pollution. City Hall was told the plant would increase fourfold the levels of nitrogen oxides compared with the existing plant and the Crossness sewage plant combined.
Concerns were also raised about possible emissions of arsenic, nickel and other metals and their effect on local residents and workers. The mayor has also said there is insufficient evidence to claim there are enough homes and buildings nearby that could use heat generated from the extra facility.
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.
“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.”
But ESA executive director Jacob Hayler was highly critical of the mayor’s stance.
“It is a shame that the mayor of London is so ill-informed about the role and benefits of EfW facilities as part of a circular economy,” he said. ”These facilities are vital for preventing non-recyclable wastes from ending up in landfill.
“Contrary to the mayor’s statement, the emissions from these plants are among the most tightly regulated of any industrial installations in Europe, and therefore the world.”
“The proposed development would bring investment and jobs to London and would save more than 200kg of CO2 for every tonne of material diverted from landfill. It is a win-win for the environment and the economy.
“We sincerely hope, for the benefit of Londoners, that this investment in much-needed new waste treatment capacity is granted.”
Hayler recently told a parliamentary inquiry that there is currently “not a prayer” that the 65% recycling of municipal waste target by 2030 will be met. To meet this goal, he said, £10bn-worth of waste processing infrastructure would be needed.