The NLWA logo superimposed over the houses of parliament
Published date: 10 July 2024

NLWA Chair's letter to incoming MPs

NLWA Chair Councillor Clyde Loakes wrote to incoming local MPs (including Prime Minister and MP for Holborn & St Pancras Sir Keir Starmer) to urge them to prioritise waste reforms and the circular economy. 

I am writing as Chair of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) to congratulate you on being [re/elected] as MP for [insert constituency].  

Working to provide the cleanest waste infrastructure for north London 

As the UK’s second largest waste authority, the NLWA’s statutory responsibility is to manage the recycling and disposal of residual waste on behalf of two million residents – including your constituents - across seven London boroughs. We also own LondonEnergy Limited (LEL), which provides essential services including running reuse and recycling centres and the Energy from Waste Facility at the Edmonton EcoPark. LEL is an existing company, we’re very pleased to say, operating along the lines of the Government’s plans for GB Energy – it generates sustainable energy and power for the benefit of communities not private shareholders.  

We know that tackling the climate crisis will be a priority for this government and the NLWA strives towards the same outcome through our efforts to support waste reduction, promote reuse, and by seeking to minimise the environmental impact of both recycling and residual waste disposal, through our existing and new infrastructure, as well as our extensive waste prevention programme. 

As part of a nationally significant infrastructure programme we are transforming the Edmonton EcoPark into a brand-new sustainable waste hub. This includes the construction of:  

  • EcoPark House, which will house a brand-new facility for the Edmonton Sea Cadets and provide a space for residents to learn about recycling. This is nearing completion.  
  • A state of the art Resource Recovery Facility for preparing waste for recycling, with a public reuse and recycling centre (RRC) and north London’s largest publicly owned solar array. These facilities add to our extensive network of RRCs across north London where residents can recycle 29 different waste streams, including pioneering options for hard to recycle items like carpet, mattresses, and polystyrene. 
  • An Energy Recovery Facility, where residual waste will be turned into heat and electricity. Once complete, this will provide a heat network for up to 60,000 homes, or electricity for up 127,000 homes. 

Ensuring financial sustainability for local authorities 

While a new parliamentary term is beginning - and with it a renewed opportunity to move towards a circular economy - the Government must also take steps to address the last Government’s policy inconsistencies and gaps which place an unsustainable financial burden on local authorities. Following 14 years of austerity measures, this must be a priority to ensure limited resources can be better spent on delivering essential frontline services and successfully implementing waste reforms. We are calling for action to: 

  1. Support local authorities to deliver on food waste reforms  

As part of Simpler Recycling, food waste recycling services will be compulsory from 2026. This is a welcome step, but although new burdens funding has been allocated to cover the capital costs incurred by collection authorities, disposal authorities like NLWA have not been allocated any new funding.  

We estimate that the new legislation will require around £25m of capital costs for NLWA alone, which will have to be passed on to our boroughs. It is imperative that both collection and disposal authorities receive sufficient funding from government to cover the cost of implementing these reforms.  

  1. Make emissions trading fair and effective  

The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) seeks to penalise and dissuade polluters by making them pay for their carbon emission.  From 2028 it will include Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities. However, expanding ETS to include EfW will not achieve the desired outcome of decarbonising the waste sector, as product designers and producers who are most responsible for the fossil content of waste are not targeted. Instead, the Scheme will act as an “end-of-pipe" tax on local authorities who have very little control over the content of the waste they must collect and dispose of, rather than tackling fossil carbon embodied in products during manufacture.   

Our estimates suggest that the ETS- as currently framed- could add up to £35m to the annual cost of waste disposal for residents in north London, placing unsustainable strain upon stretched borough budgets and leading councils to consider tax increases or further cuts to essential services. The market system which is key to the ETS also means costs are volatile and unpredictable, adding risk to local authority finances and making it difficult to plan services. For this reason, we believe expanding the ETS to include EfW facilities must either exclude local authority waste, or alternatively, local authorities must be provided with funding to cover our costs without causing cuts elsewhere.  

  1. Exempt publicly owned companies from the Electricity Generator Levy  

The Electricity Generator Levy (EGL) has had significant financial consequences for our boroughs. We strongly support action to tackle windfall gains which benefit private shareholders at the expense of hard pressed consumers.  However, LEL is caught by the EGL, and the only result of that is to prevent gains benefitting councils and council tax payers. This is set to mean a loss to our boroughs of over £20 million- money that could make a difference to the boroughs’ front line services.  We have argued that a specific and limited exemption should be given for companies owned by public sector organisations. To reiterate a point made earlier we see our arrangement as a prototype for GB Energy, and the communications for that company make clear the Government’s desire is to see municipal and community energy profits flowing directly back into local communities.  

Working together  

We hope you will work with us to make these changes over the coming months, to avoid unnecessary burdens on council taxpayers in north London, and ensure resources can be spent on improving and delivering essential services, including waste and recycling. Nor are these issues isolated to the seven boroughs that make up NLWA, they will be impacting all councils in the country. 

We also hope you will support our community work and engagement with local residents. We have a comprehensive and award-winning social value programme, and recently received the Municipal Journal award as best local authority project for Innovation in Delivering Sustainability and Social Value.  

I’d appreciate the opportunity to discuss these points further, and to explore our hopes for this Parliamentary term. Alternatively, you would be welcome to visit us for a[nother] tour of our Edmonton EcoPark to see our new facilities and those in construction. Please get in touch and my colleagues will arrange a convenient date.   

Yours sincerely, 

Cllr Clyde Loakes MBE 

Chair, North London Waste Authority