Published date: 22 September 2022

NLWA Chair writes to BEIS and Defra asking for urgent action to reduce waste and transition to a circular economy

Dear Secretaries of State,

I am writing to congratulate you on your appointment as Secretaries of State for your respective departments and highlight the opportunity to work with experienced and knowledgeable partners to make real progress in addressing challenges around energy security and a deepening climate emergency.

As the UK’s second largest waste authority, NLWA is responsible for managing the disposal of rubbish on behalf of seven London boroughs, representing 3% of the UK’s population. The government could help local authorities achieve higher levels of recycling by giving them the powers they need to enforce recycling. But even after recycling we still need a responsible solution for residual waste.

The North London Heat and Power Project (NLHPP) is our £1.2 billion infrastructure project to build new flagship waste management facilities at Edmonton EcoPark. Our existing energy from waste plant has diverted over 21 million tonnes of waste from landfill, but it was built in 1971 and needs replacing. We are building a world-class Energy Recovery Facility that will provide heat and power to thousands of homes and businesses, alongside London’s largest publicly owned Resource Recovery Facility to help drive up recycling rates. We received our Development Consent Order from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in 2017 and the project, which has been under construction since 2019, will play an important part in our efforts to transition to a circular economy.

The Energy Recovery Facility will support a low carbon district heat network of up to 50,000 homes, which will be one of the largest in London and a major asset in realising the objectives of the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy. 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. 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. Both networks will be supplied primarily by the new Energy Recovery Facility. Government needs to continue investing in these cutting-edge low-carbon heating technologies to help secure a lasting move away from fossil fuels.

With concerns about the cost of living and unprecedented pressure on public finances, it has never been more vital for the Government to push forward with initiatives that will reduce waste. I urge you to bring forward measures such as Extended Producer Responsibility and Deposit Return Schemes to reduce the financial burden of waste disposal on local authorities and to tackle unsustainable consumption. We need bold, joined-up, and innovative thinking by Ministers to support the UK’s necessary transition to a more circular economy. Not only will reducing the number of unnecessary, unrecyclable items reduce emissions, it will mean councils can spend less on disposing of waste and more on protecting other front-line services.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you, your ministerial colleagues or civil servants to show you our progress. If you would like to meet, visit the EcoPark or have any questions about how we can partner to achieve lasting change that supports the Government’s strategies, please do get in touch and my colleagues would be happy to arrange.  

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Clyde Loakes,

Chair, North London Waste Authority