North London councillors give green light for major investment in north London’s waste management facilities

30 Jun 2020

Plans to invest £600m in a world-class Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) at Edmonton EcoPark, Enfield, took a major step forward on Thursday 25 June when councillors on the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) approved plans to let bidders come forward to construct the facility.

The ERF is part of the North London Waste Authority’s plan for a sustainable waste hub in Edmonton, which includes major investment in state-of-the-art recycling facilities, to be delivered in the first phase of the project. Procurement for these facilities launched last year and a contractor is expected to be appointed later in 2020, ahead of construction starting next year. See the latest flythrough video to show what the facilities will look like in the future.

The recycling facilities include the first ever public reuse and recycling centre at the EcoPark, as well as a Resource Recovery Facility with capacity to manage 135,000 tonnes of recyclable material every year. These facilities are part of NLWA’s pioneering efforts to raise awareness of waste reduction and recycling in north London and across the Capital. This wider activity includes Low Plastic Zones, Swish and Style clothe-swaps and the London Upcycling Show.

The ERF will be a vital asset for managing north London’s non-recyclable waste sustainably in the future. The facility will divert up to 700,000 tonnes of waste from landfill every year, which is a vital to tackling the Climate Emergency declared by north London boroughs. It will have the same carbon impact as taking up to 110,000 cars off the road every year. The ERF will replace a retiring plant at the site, which is thought to be the oldest in Europe, and safeguard sustainable waste services for another generation. The ERF will ensure increasing waste levels can be managed responsibly as north London’s population increases over the coming decades.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of the North London Waste Authority, said:

“Our investment in this world-class Energy Recovery Facility is a vital part of the service we provide to our two million residents. It’s an important part of our overall programme to build world-beating recycling and waste treatment facilities at the EcoPark. As well as the ERF the NLHPP includes vital facilities to help north London’s drive to increase recycling rates to 50% and will for the first time ever let residents take their household items for reuse and recycling to the EcoPark.

“Our responsible decision making will enable our residents to reduce their waste and recycle more in the future, while reducing the hugely environmentally damaging impact of landfill. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the services we provide to our residents and tackle the Climate Emergency. It will provide highly skilled, well paid jobs and apprenticeships in a cutting-edge sector right here in north London. 

The process for securing a contractor will launch soon, with world-leading construction experts expected to take part in the competitive bid to build this high-tech, nationally significant infrastructure project. More information about the procurement process has been provided by the Project team in an online event today (Tuesday 30 June).  

Members’ decision to press ahead with the project follows careful consideration of all relevant environmental factors and the alternatives options. The ERF will far outperform the alternatives, which include mechanical biological treatment, as well as pyrolysis and gasification, which have not been proven on the scale required in north London, and do not present environmentally or financially responsible solutions for the future.

An indicative cost estimate was prepared in 2015, which mainly focused on the ERF. Within the overall project costs, the ERF remains an estimated investment of £600m. Other facilities, such as the flagship Resource Recovery Facility, have now been developed to the highest, most advanced and modern operating standards in the UK. The investments in additional facilities are part of the overall strategy to increase recycling rates in north London to 50% and have been accounted for in the detailed, robust cost estimate prepared last year as the project entered the construction phase.

Good progress is being made to prepare the EcoPark site for construction. Following a temporary pause due to covid-19, work on site has resumed safely, with a range of measures to protect the workforce. This means that vital works to prepare for the new recycling facilities can progress rapidly, ahead of construction next year. A contractor for the new ERF is expected to be appointed in 2022. The ERF is planned to start operation in 2026 and the old plant will be decommissioned.

The ERF will use non-recyclable waste to generate enough heat and power to serve the needs of 127,000 homes – equivalent to all the households in the borough in Enfield. It will provide the opportunity to create one of London’s largest low-carbon heat networks, with potential to heat up to 10,000 homes in the neighbouring Meridian Water development. The ERF will also enable thousands of tonnes of metals to be extracted from waste every year for recycling, helping to preserve the planet’s natural resources.

The ERF will use the highest performing technologies to control emissions. It will be the first facility in the UK to benefit from world-class equipment for controlling nitrogen oxides, and use proven filters for capturing particulates, including ultrafine particles. As a result, it will be one of the safest and cleanest facilities in the world, operating well within the limits set by the Environment Agency.

The project will unlock major opportunities for apprenticeships and skills training in Edmonton, with at least 90 apprenticeship opportunities available in high-skilled roles that cover technology, construction and engineering. The Project will be registered with the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry, which will establish a partnership with trade unions to promote positive working practices and cultures. All the jobs provided through the ERF contract will be at or above the London Living Wage. The project is part of the ongoing regeneration of Enfield and will create extensive supply chain opportunities for local businesses.