Published date: 15 March 2023

NLWA Chair asks Chancellor not to penalise local authorities leading the way to a circular economy

Dear Chancellor,

I am writing to you as Chair of North London Waste Authority, a local authority which serves two million residents in London. 

As the UK’s second largest waste authority, NLWA is responsible for managing the disposal of the waste on behalf of the households in the seven north London boroughs, representing 3% of the UK’s total waste. We are building a high-tech Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) to replace the current 1970s plant, which will provide low carbon heat and power to thousands of homes and businesses in north London and London’s largest publicly owned Resource Recovery Facility to help reduce the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of. Collectively they will both play an important part in our efforts to transition to a circular economy.

With energy costs soaring and many families facing financial hardship, plans like ours can ensure residents and businesses have access to low carbon heat options. To that end we were delighted when Haringey Council was awarded £27.8 million funding from the Government for two heat networks that will supply heat to almost 10,000 homes from our Energy Recovery Facility. We urge Government to continue investing in these cutting-edge low-carbon heating technologies to help secure a lasting move away from fossil fuels.

As the owner of the existing energy from waste facility, we have been able to return almost £15M in windfall electricity earnings to our seven constituent boroughs since just last November, alleviating pressure on households in the area and enabling our boroughs to support essential frontline council services. This windfall is only possible because the facility is wholly publicly owned, and we hope to return further windfall earnings whilst we continue to receive extra income from electricity generation due to global energy price rises. However, the inclusion of publicly owned energy-from-waste facilities in the Government’s Electricity Generator Levy will likely curtail future dividends. The Authority would like to see publicly owned energy-from-waste facilities excluded from this levy so that local facilities like ours can continue to benefit local communities.

Similarly, plans for the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) need to be designed so that it avoids penalising local authorities and facilities with advanced emissions controls. The ETS should reflect the priorities of the waste hierarchy and provide proper incentives for operators to minimise emissions, thereby demonstrating support for projects working to become net zero. 

The Authority is also committed to bringing carbon capture and storage (CCS) on-board in the early 2030s to enable the facility to be carbon negative and we would like to see waste become a priority sector for assistance from the Government.

In terms of policy and mechanisms to reduce unsustainable waste across the UK, the Authority would like to highlight how vital it is for the Government to fully support and properly fund the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS). Government must fully consider too the impact on local councils and give them a role in the scheme’s design, implementation and operations.  It is also crucial that the Government does not delay or water down Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which in the long term, will significantly help to reduce environmentally damaging packaging waste. The DRS could also help to reduce the scourge of littering, which is blighting so many UK towns and cities as well as our glorious countryside right now.

We also urge the Government to provide sufficient funding to allow local councils across the UK to provide segregated and consistent recycling and waste collections for all residents. Local authorities that have been innovative and already rolled out schemes under their own initiative must be supported as well as those who have yet to provide extra services.      

 Finally, we urge the Government to ensure that London boroughs receive proper funding. With the 2023-24 settlement expected to be 18% lower in real terms compared to 2010-11 despite increases in London’s population growth, boroughs will be far less able to continue to provide essential frontline services, help vulnerable residents with the 'cost of living crisis', and run schemes and initiatives to help address the growing and broad range of climate challenges we all face.

Yours sincerely, 

Cllr Clyde Loakes,

Chair, North London Waste Authority