This film is an updated edit of a report first seen as part of our What’s Happening weekly YouTube show last week.
Five people were arrested after protesters used bamboo structures and lock-ons to blockade three gates at the North London Edmonton incinerator last week, shutting down work at the plant for the day.
Plans to hugely expand the Enfield plant came to a head last Thursday, when six of the seven London councils in the North London Waste Authority (NWLA) voted to approve the scheme, despite a long campaign of protests, lobbies and petitions. They gave the contract to the Spanish based corporation Acciona (which has faced controversy and problems with corruption and safety).
Acciona CEO José Manuel Entrecanales was caught on video at COP26 admitting that the proposed development is massively oversized, and an All Parliamentary Committee on Air Pollution has just released a report recommending that all incinerator expansions be halted immediately to protect human health and cut carbon emissions.
The week before, in a vote at Islington council, Green councillor Caroline Russell complained that her motion to pause the expansion had been controversially re-written by Labour councillors before the full council meeting began and their “amendment” recommended a vote FOR the expansion instead.
Despite the lobbying campaign, Haringey was the only council to express concern, calling for a ‘Pause and Review’. They voted against the project at the final meeting on 16th December in Camden.
The Edmonton incinerator is situated in a poor area with a higher than average percentage of people of colour (around 65%). According to a study by Imperial College, deprived communities like those around Edmonton are already hit hardest by air pollution, causing health and especially respiratory and cardio-vascular problems, and yet waste incinerators are three times more likely to be built in these areas, compounding the issues. Edmonton’s ambient air pollution levels already exceed EU limits, but the UK has actively lobbied the EU against higher air pollution standards.
A group of local doctors want the plans halted on the basis of the precautionary principle, citing health concerns, and the campaign has brought together diverse groups including Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, Unite the Union, and many others.
Proponents of the scheme claim that particulates will be managed by a selective catalytic reduction system , but a study by ZeroWasteEurope showed that even state-of-the-art technology produces hidden emissions, and some experts believe this will increase carbon emissions.
They also promise that in the future carbon emissions will be controlled through carbon capture technology, but carbon capture technology is currently too expensive and unworkable, and a recent report by the National Infrastructure Commission warns that carbon targets are at risk because of the increase in incineration.
Although the NWLA claim that the plant will improve sorting and recycling rates, a government inquiry into recycling heard evidence that local authorities with incinerators have lower rates of recycling and in general, recycling rates have actually been plateaued or even falling over many years.
At Thursday’s vote, protesters took to the street and blocked traffic outside the meeting. Although the result comes as a blow to many, the campaign continues, with warnings of further direct action and grassroots resistance to this unwelcome project.
More info and future protests at stop-edmonton-incinerator.org