London mayor calls for second Bexley waste incinerator to be scrapped

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 May 2019

The incinerator

The incinerator


Waste incinerators are seen by some as the best way to get rid of the mountain of garbage we all produce every year, but the Mayor of London says enough is enough and a second planned for Bexley must be shelved.

Sadiq Khan has called on the Government to stop permitting the building of what he calls "archaic" polluting waste incinerators as he outlined his opposition to a proposed incinerator in Bexley, which he says is set to raise harmful nitrogen oxide, or NOx, pollution levels.

Sadiq said he strongly believes burning waste in incinerators worsens London's already toxic air quality and hinders boroughs from reaching recycling and waste reduction targets.

He said At 54 per cent, London has the highest incineration rate in the UK for management of local authority waste, yet the lowest recycling rate at 30 per cent.

There are three incinerators in the capital; Bexley, the same location as the proposed site, Enfield and Lewisham.

City Hall says it has heard from worried Bexley residents and MPs who strongly oppose the plans.

The plant would emit more than four times as much harmful NOx as the existing local incinerator and the Crossness sewage plant combined, the mayor's office says.

And it added that it could also emit arsenic, nickel and other metals that could damage the health of residents and workers both nearby and across the river.

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The Mayor has reviewed the application by waste management company Cory and disputes claims that the incinerator will generate low-carbon heat and power and meet his minimum CO2 requirement for energy from waste facilities, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and help tackle London's climate emergency.

The mayor also claims there is also insufficient evidence to make the case that there are enough homes and buildings nearby that could use heat generated from the new incinerator.

The existing incinerator facility at Riverside Resource Recovery Facility on the site, the mayor said, has demonstrated more than enough capacity to supply sufficient heat for existing and proposed homes and workplaces in the surrounding area.

The Mayor does not have powers to stop the incinerator because final approval for the facility lies with the government. But he will oppose the application through representations made to the Planning Inspectorate, which will make a recommendation on the application to the Government.

He has also outlined his opposition in a report to Secretary of State for Business, Greg Clark.

Mr 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 polluting our city. 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."

Dougie Sutherland, CEO of Cory Riverside Energy, said: "Incinerators are not the problem. Over two million tonnes of London's non-recyclable waste is currently sent to landfill or shipped overseas, so there is a capacity gap that urgently needs investment.

"Our proposed Energy Park will play a significant part in addressing this shortfall and will also deliver a sustainable waste management solution for London, increasing renewable, low carbon energy generation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We will not have any detrimental effect on recycling rates, or the recycling targets set in adopted and emerging policy."

He added: "As part of the application process, we have fully assessed air quality and the results show the proposed Energy Park will not have any significant effect on air quality in any location. We have published the results of these assessments for scrutiny by anybody who is interested, as part of our Development Consent Order application."

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