Published date: 23 February 2023

NLWA Chair writes to new Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero to discuss shared goals

Dear Secretary of State,  

I am writing to congratulate you on your appointment as Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.  

North London Waste Authority welcomes the Prime Minister placing energy at the top of the political agenda, and his commitment to securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation. We also welcome his acknowledgement of the need to secure more energy from renewable sources as we seize the opportunities of net zero. 

I write to introduce the Authority and the North London Heat and Power Project (NLHPP), the Authority’s project to build new flagship waste management facilities at Edmonton Eco Park. 

As the UK’s second largest waste authority, NLWA is responsible for managing the disposal of rubbish on behalf of seven north London boroughs, representing 3% of the UK’s total waste. The NLHPP includes a world-class high-tech Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) that 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 play an important part in our efforts, in north London, to transition to a circular economy.

Since receiving our Development Consent Order from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in 2017, sustainability has been at the forefront of the project. The ERF will support a low carbon district heat network of up to 60,000 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 ERF. Government needs to continue investing in these cutting-edge low-carbon heating technologies to help secure a lasting move away from fossil fuels.

The Authority is also committed to bringing carbon capture and storage (CCS) onboard in the early 2030s to enable the facility to be carbon negative. We are building the ERF to be carbon capture ready, positioning us right at the forefront of targets set by the Climate Change Committee. We welcome the government’s support for the rapid development of carbon capture and would like to see waste become a priority sector for assistance. Energy recovery is the most environmentally responsible way to deal with residual waste but there is currently no way of disposing of the waste with zero carbon emissions. We would welcome the opportunity to work closely with you and across Government on emerging approaches and technology responses to carbon capture.

One of the priorities of your new department is to harness the social and economic benefits of the low-carbon energy transition. This is a goal we share and continue to demonstrate through our social value programme. This includes prioritising employment and training opportunities for local people and businesses, as well as running a schools programme across north London to stimulate interest in STEM subjects, construction, engineering and waste infrastructure related careers.  

We’re very proud of the work we are doing future-proofing nationally significant infrastructure to support residents, and the UK’s overall effort to achieve net zero. We’re also proud to have returned windfall electricity earnings from our existing energy from waste facility, alleviating pressure on council taxpayers in the local area, enabling the seven boroughs to keep more money for essential 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. However, the inclusion of publicly owned energy-from-waste facilities in the Government’s new Electricity Generator Levy will likely curtail future dividends if energy prices remain unusually high. The Authority would like to see publicly owned energy-from-waste facilities excluded from this new levy.  

Similarly, plans for the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) need to be designed so they avoid 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. 

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your Minister for Energy to discuss these issues further, and to show you our project that will bring energy security and freedom from gas boilers for thousands of people.  If you would like to meet and 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