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Water Transport - updated from phase 1

What this document is

North London Waste Authority (NLWA) investigated the possibility of transporting municipal solid waste (MSW) to and incineration bottom ash (IBA) from the Edmonton EcoPark via water. The study looked at the associated costs and the environmental benefits and compared the results with that of road transport.

The results of the investigation show transport via the waterways will only be feasible with considerable infrastructure investment; regular monitoring and maintenance; management and oversight. Water transport costs are anywhere between 2.2 and 3.0 times as much as the equivalent road transport scenario.

Transport via the waterways is shown to reduce CO2 emissions by between 36% and 64%. However, the avoided emissions are small in the context of the wider project.

NLWA investigated the possibility of transporting via water Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to and IBA from the Edmonton Ecopark. The route included navigating the River Lee Navigation, Bow Creek and the River Thames. The study looked at the associated costs and the environmental benefits and compared the results with that of road transport.

MSW refers to waste generated by households as well as waste from businesses which is of a similar composition. This waste is commonly referred to as Local Authority Collected (LAC) waste. IBA is the solid material left over after the waste is burned and must be removed from site for recycling or disposal. The study shows the waterways in question are likely to have the capacity to accommodate up to 180,000 tonnes annually of IBA and MSW but not without considerable financial investment.

Transport via the waterways will not be feasible without significant upgrades to the existing infrastructure, regular monitoring and maintenance; and, owing to the complexity of the movements will require a significant degree of management and oversight. The civil works needed would include upgrading at least three locks; upgrading the Ash Wharf at the EcoPark; and the installation of new commercial landing stages (for queuing barges) at either side of each lock.

In all scenarios the total costs of transporting IBA from and/or MSW via the waterways was more expensive than the equivalent road transport scenario – between 2.2 and 3.0 times as expensive. The total costs include costs for waterways infrastructure, waterways maintenance, wharf construction, on-site transfer costs, barge loading costs and transport costs for the Lee Navigation, Bow Creek, and River Thames. Without such investment the use of water as a means of transport would not be feasible. By comparison road transport has a readymade infrastructure and would only require the procurement of the necessary vehicles and handling plant.

The report shows that transport via the road network produces higher levels of greenhouse gases (measured as carbon dioxide equivalence or CO2eq) per annum for each equivalent water transport scenario. Transport via the waterways is shown to reduce CO2eq emissions by between 36% and 64%. In the context of the wider project, by diverting 700,000 tonnes of municipal waste from landfill via energy recovery, north London’s homes and businesses can
avoid just over 188,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions in a year. Avoided emissions from water transport represent just 0.2% of this figure1. The avoided emissions are minimal in the context of the wider project.

The transport via water of construction materials and demolition waste was also examined, and similar issues arise as for IBA and MSW.

The wharf area is the site of the proposed EcoPark House which will serve as the site reception, location for some administration staff, accommodate the Sea Cadets and serve as a visitor and education centre for groups such as schools. Construction will be implemented in a phased manner to ensure that essential operations associated with the existing EfW facility and the Resource Recovery Facility remain functioning throughout. EcoPark House will be built during the initial construction phase alongside the Resource Recovery Facility.

The construction of EcoPark House is required during the initial construction phase for a number of practical reasons including to rehouse the Sea Cadets and accommodate new IT server systems. In addition, the Resource Recovery Facility will also house a publicly accessible Reuse and Recycling Centre which will become open to the public and businesses once the Resource Recovery Facility (and EcoPark House) is complete. The mixing of light and heavy vehicles around the Ash Wharf area would introduce significant safety concerns in particular to public users of the Reuse and Recycling Centre.

For the reasons outlined above including economic, environmental and safety considerations, the use of the wharf for crane operations as part of the water transport infrastructure is not likely to be viable.

Want to know more?

Interim Transport Report

Hello! Our two planned phases of consultation have now finished. We have reviewed all of the feedback we received during both phases of the consultation and have produced a summary of the consultation report.