NLHPP statement in response to air quality claims

17 Dec 2020

The coroner’s ruling yesterday highlights the tragic impact that pollution caused by road vehicles has on the health of London’s residents. Mr Philip Barlow, the coroner in this case, has been quoted as saying “The whole of Ella’s life was lived in close proximity to highly polluting roads. I have no difficulty in concluding that her personal exposure to nitrogen dioxide and PM was very high.” We offer our greatest sympathies to Ella Adoo-Kissa-Debrah’s family. It is, however, misleading to suggest that the existing or new waste to energy facility in north London pose a risk to people’s health.

There is a common misconception that emissions from Energy Recovery Facilities contain significant levels of pollutants and that they are associated with health risks, despite there being no evidence to support this. The clear consensus, backed up by Public Health England and the UK’s Air Quality Expert Group, is that facilities like the North London Heat and Power Project have an extremely small impact on air quality and do not present health risks.  

As public servants our first priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities. That is why we are investing in the very best, proven technologies to control emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxides from our new Energy Recovery Facility. As a result, our facility will be one of the safest, cleanest and highest performing in the world.

Our Energy Recovery Facility will make an exceedingly small contribution to concentrations of pollutants in our area and across London. At a local level, our technology is so efficient that the impact to local concentrations of pollutants is effectively zero for the majority of the year, and only 2% of air quality limits for a few hours a year.

This is vastly outweighed by other sources like road traffic and domestic wood burning. In Enfield, road transport is responsible for around 40% of NOx and 30% of particulates. Across London, road transport causes 60% of nitrogen oxides and 25% of particulates.

Our Project will safeguard essential, hygienic waste management services for two million residents and avoid the huge climate impacts of sending the same volumes of waste to landfill. Work to build the project is progressing rapidly, with construction on major new recycling facilities starting next year.