What this document is
A short summary of the alternative plans and proposals North London Waste Authority (NLWA) considered and the process for considering options prior to embarking on the North London Heat and Power Project (the Project). More detailed information on options is now set out in the Interim Alternatives Assessment Report.
A key element of NLWA’s approach for the Project is the prevailing planning framework.
The Project has been developed following strategic options work previously completed by NLWA which led to a long term procurement strategy for waste management and fuel use. Both of these procurements were ended by NLWA in September 2013 in favour a solution based around an energy recovery facility, as proposed in this Project.
North London has had the benefit of the use of the Energy from Waste (EfW) facility at the EcoPark in Edmonton since the early 1970s. Such facilities will inevitably reach the end of their operational life, and NLWA has been assessing the likely timeframe for a replacement solution, and the appropriate strategic approach, for some years.
NLWA’s view, based on technical advice, is that the facility can reasonably be expected to continue to operate safely and within regulatory requirements until about 2025. This view is supported by a maintenance regime implemented by LondonWaste Limited - NLWA’s waste management contractor and wholly-owned company.
The strategic basis for NLWA’s decisions is the North London Joint Waste Strategy (NLJWS) which covers the period 2004 to 2020. This strategy contains objectives and targets which set out the need to reduce the amount of waste sent from the north London area to landfill, and targets for increasing recycling in the area to 50 per cent by 2020. The strategy is broadly neutral as to the technological solution to be implemented to achieve these aims and process the residual waste; however, it acknowledges that the use of heat from waste is supported by regional policies.
Building on the NLJWS, NLWA’s strategic approach was further developed in an Outline Business Case (OBC) prepared in January 2010, which set out the procurement strategy. The OBC formed part of the application for Project Finance Initiative (PFI) credits – a Government scheme for infrastructure development – for financial support for the outcome of a procurement for a waste services and a fuel use contract in north London.
Planning Policy background
At the time of developing the procurement strategy, the conclusion as to the delivery of an EfW facility was that the risks of an unsuccessful planning application were high. This was based on the then north London planning context, the key document being the London Plan, together with the emerging North London Waste Plan, and the Enfield Core Strategy. The then Mayor of London was in favour of new and emerging technologies over incineration. This position had led to planning delays on EfW projects for the burning of waste leading to electricity generation, and the risk associated with pursuing a replacement EfW facility was seen as unacceptably high.
The potential for a Decentralised Energy Network (DEN) distributing low carbon heat was recognised in the procurement documentation, but proposals brought forward by the market were not sufficiently advanced for this to form part of the Authority’s waste disposal strategy.
The London Borough of Enfield’s Supplementary Planning Document relating to the EcoPark was adopted in May 2013, and the Upper Lee Valley Opportunity Area Framework, a London Mayoral planning framework for regeneration of the Upper Lee Valley, was adopted in July 2013. Both of these documents actively support the use of energy generated at the EcoPark for local heat. A further assessment of the planning framework for future waste management proposals was therefore carried out, and the planning assessment of an energy from waste or energy recovery facility was as a result assessed as significantly more favourable.
In addition, the London Borough of Enfield, together with its company Lee Valley Heat Network is now actively progressing plans for a local heat network using heat from the energy produced at the EcoPark.
Assessments were previously carried out in preparation for the OBC, and those assessments were updated in 2013 and 2014 in search of alternative options to the procurement strategy. The assessments cover the areas of technology solution and site selection.
The technology solution forming the basis of the Project reflects the technical assessments carried out and the changes in relevant planning policy during the period of assessments. The selection of thermal technology with advanced moving grate is supported by the technological assessments carried out and, following developments in regional and local planning policy during 2013, is now consistent with planning policy.
The site selection was based on site availability and suitability. The EcoPark site is an existing waste management site which has protected waste use status. It is therefore the key waste management site for the north London area. The Edmonton EcoPark meets the criteria for a suitable site for waste management for north London, in particular as it is available to NLWA for use for waste management purposes, and is of sufficient size to accommodate new facilities while ensuring continuity of waste treatment during the period of construction of new facilities.
The appraisal of options in the OBC concluded that the cost of EfW was less than other technological solutions. However, the adverse planning assessment led to a cost weighting to take account of additional time required, and risks associated with, a planning application and appeal. The result of this was that an EfW facility was concluded not to be a deliverable solution, and the strategy followed was for Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) producing a fuel, to be burned and produce energy elsewhere.
However, with the changed planning framework, there was no longer any need to risk adjust the EfW solution for planning risk, and NLWA was able to make decisions about future residual waste treatment based on the less expensive EfW /energy recovery solution.
The cost for the replacement ERF has been assessed at a high level to be £450-500million. Costings for other elements of the Project are being developed following finalisation of the draft design for submission of the DCO application
The application for a Development Consent Order for an ERF at the EcoPark site is the culmination of the NLWA’s strategic approach to future waste management. The project has developed from the various assessments NLWA has undertaken in establishing the procurement strategy and considering alternatives to that strategy in order to meet the objectives of the NLJWS.
Want to know more?
Outline Business Case http://www.nlwa.gov.uk/governance-and-accountability/freedom-of-information-act/publication-scheme - See section entitled ‘NLWA Procurement 2010-13’
Notice of decision to end procurement: http://www.nlwa.gov.uk/news/newsdetail/2013/09/27/north-london-waste-authority-decides-to-end-procurement-process
Upper Lee Valley Opportunity Area Planning Framework :http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/planning/opportunity-areas/upper-lee-valley-opportunity-area-planning-framework-0
North London Joint Waste Strategy http://www.nlwa.gov.uk/about/authority-strategies
LVHN website http://www.enfield.gov.uk/lvhn/