Tuesday, 3 July 2012

[Reposted] North London Waste Authority and 'Mythbusters'

"Mythbusters – Debunking the myths surrounding our Pinkham Way proposals"
The NLWA says: "Whenever new proposals for a development are put forward, and news of those proposals spreads, there is always a certain amount of confusion and misunderstanding around the details of the plans. We want to make sure that any discussion about the proposed facilities is informed by facts, so we have put together a set of ‘mythbusters’ to ensure you’re up to speed on our proposals.

"Below is a set of facts in response to some of the most commonly held myths about the proposed facilities."

Pinkham Way Mythbusters
  • Myth – Your own projections show that the amount of waste being produced in north London is falling, so you don’t need to waste taxpayers money on new facilities

    Fact: Whilst there are always uncertainties in any forward projections of waste arisings, we believe that the projections show that new waste facilities are needed. 
        Our recent modelling work updates previous projections and is presented in our hearing statement for the North London Waste Plan Examination in Public, available here http://www.nlwp.net/downloads/submission/statements/matter%202.html
        While waste projections have decreased in recent years, we believe that this is mainly due to decreased economic activity as a result of the recession, and in the longer term a rising trend will resume, albeit later than originally predicted. We are still expecting growth in waste volumes because of the increased numbers of new houses and people expected to be living in north London in the future.
        Last year, the Authority sent approaching 260,000 tonnes of municipal waste to landfill outside of the capital. The Authority has budgeted to spend just under £13 million in 2012/13 on landfill taxation alone, a figure that is set to rise to over £18 million each year in the coming years. This is an unacceptable situation for north London’s taxpayers that cannot be allowed to continue.
        In addition, our existing incinerator at the Edmonton EcoPark which handles some 420,000 tonnes of north London’s municipal waste per year is nearing the end of its operational life. The rest (approximately 200,000 tonnes per year) is recycled.
        So as a minimum we have over 680,000 tonnes of waste per year that either goes to expensive and unsustainable landfill outside of the capital or is incinerated in a facility that will need to be replaced.
        Across London a significant amount of population growth is also expected. Indeed the Mayor of London’s ‘London Plan ‘ is forecasting the population to grow by a rate equivalent to the capital absorbing the equivalent of a city the size of Sheffield in the next ten years.
        It is therefore clear that we need to develop more environmentally sustainable solutions to managing this rising level of waste and extracting value from it for taxpayers within north London. Our proposals for new waste management facilities will help us to increase household waste recycling rates from the current level of 30% to 50% by 2020, and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, from 36% to 15%. The facilities have also been sized accordingly.
  • Myth – You’re going to build an incinerator

    Fact: The planning application we have submitted to Haringey Council is for a waste treatment facility that uses mechanical and biological treatment processes ONLY to extract recyclable materials and treat ‘residual’ waste that is left over after council recycling collection services.
        The solution we are proposing is for the facility at Pinkham Way to manufacture a solid fuel from waste that is left over after as much recyclable material as possible has been extracted; that fuel will then be transported to one of two sites outside of north London where there is a need for energy (heat and electricity).
        NO waste incineration will take place on the site, and no plans are being made to accommodate incineration at Pinkham Way now or in the future.
        It should also be noted that we will be entering a contract with our new waste services contractor for some 30 years, and the site area proposed will be fully used for that period; therefore there will be no space for any other facilities. When the contractual arrangements are over (i.e. after 30 yrs plus), it will be for the Authority to decide on the ongoing use of the site.
        Any change of use would require a completely new detailed planning and permit application, including all of the relevant local consultation; in other words we would have to start again.
  • Myth – This plant could be placed outside of London, well away from populated areas

    Fact: The response that communities living outside of London would give to this view is “why should we have to deal with your waste?” Both central government and the Mayor of London also believe that it is unfair for London to “dump” its waste outside of the city, and have therefore said that London must in future manage more its own waste inside its borders.
        It is also usually not possible to place sites very far away from people, as such land is often protected from development, for example farmland or green belt.
        Other parts of London and other cities have already introduced similar facilities into their communities:
    • Old Kent Road, Bermondsey (London Borough of Southwark)
      This 5.6 hectare site has the capacity to manage up to 200,000 tonnes per year in a 29,000sqm building. The site is located in an urban area, with the nearest residential boundary approximately 10 metres from the edge of the site.
    • Frog Island, Rainham (London Borough of Havering)
      This facility has capacity to manage 290,000 tonnes per year in facilities including MBT and materials recycling facility on a 4.2 hectare site, within 1km of the nearest residents.
    • Reliance Street, Salford (Greater Manchester)
      This facility opened in April 2011 and provides a MBT facility and Household Waste Recycling Centre on a 3.1 hectare site with capacity to manage 100,000 tonnes per year. The site is close to a railway line, and a housing area.
  • Myth – The proposed waste facility at Pinkham Way will be the biggest waste plant in Europe

    Fact: It has been widely speculated that our proposed waste facility will manage up to 1.2 million tonnes of waste per year and/or will be the largest waste site in the UK or Europe. This is not correct.
        We have indeed forecasted that in more than 20 years time there may be 1.2 million tonnes of waste collected per year by north London’s borough councils. However, at Pinkham Way, we are hoping to build a waste facility that can manage a maximum of 300,000 (0.3 million) tonnes of waste per year. The proposed facility is similar to others that exist in the UK.
        (See "Myth – Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) isn’t a widely used technology for disposing of leftover waste" for information on other similar facilities in the UK.)
        Additionally, we have a number of other facilities across north London that also manage the area’s waste. These are:
    • LondonWaste EcoPark, Edmonton, Enfield – a multi-use facility consisting of an energy from waste incinerator, transfer station for sending rubbish trucks to landfill sites in other people’s areas, in-vessel composting facility and bulky recycling centre.
    • Hendon Rail Transfer Station, Barnet – a facility where unrecyclable “residual” waste is transferred by rail to landfill sites in other people’s areas in the Home Counties.
    • Hornsey Street Road Transfer Station, Islington – a facility where waste from the more central north London boroughs is brought for initial treatment, then transfer in bulk to the LondonWaste EcoPark facility in Edmonton or to landfill sites in other people’s areas.
  • Myth - The proposed facilities will release harmful emissions that will affect the health of nearby residents

    Fact: The MBT process does not produce any harmful emissions. It consists of two different stages:
    • The first stage of the process involves mechanically sorting the waste to remove items that can be recycled, e.g. scrap metal. The bags of waste are split open and the waste is sorted into smaller and larger pieces by various pieces of equipment.  The smaller pieces are predominantly of organic origin, and these then go through to the next stage of the process.
    • The second stage of the process is the biological phase where the remaining waste is allowed to break down naturally in a sealed, controlled environment via composting or anaerobic digestion.
    The buildings in which waste processing takes place are designed to manage dust or odour so that they do not cause a local nuisance. This good design, alongside good site management will be regulated by the Environment Agency and Haringey Council’s environmental health officers to protect local people and the environment.
  • Myth – The plant will process more than the stated maximum of 300,000 tonnes of waste per year

    Fact: At Pinkham Way, we are seeking planning permission to build a waste facility that can manage a maximum of 300,000 (0.3 million) tonnes of waste per year, which is currently a third of the waste collected by the seven north London boroughs.  We will therefore not be able to process more than this.
  • Myth – The plant will affect the well-being of local people with 24-hour noise, odour, and the stress of living in its shadow

    Fact: In order to protect the surrounding area from noise, odour or dust, all waste handling and treatment will be within buildings and the air within the waste facility will be passed through biofilters to remove odours before being released to the atmosphere. In part this is why it is necessary to seek planning permission for a relatively large building of around 15,000sqm.
        We have modelled air movements around the site to determine whether it is necessary to include a stack that will aid the dispersion of the filtered internal air and protect against any odour nuisance. This will be finalised in our planning application later, when full details will be made available. This will all be regulated closely by the Environment Agency and Haringey Council’s environmental health and planning officers.
        The proposed waste facility has been located within the site so that it is closest to the A406 and east coast mainline railway, both of which are already sources of background noise in the local area.
        Barnet Council’s vehicles will also park up so that when they start work in the mornings they can drive straight off without their reversing beepers sounding.
  • Myth – the carbon impact of "double handling" solid recovered fuel like that you propose to produce at Pinkham Way outweighs the benefit of producing it

    Fact (presumably): The carbon impacts of waste are mostly in the treatment of the waste rather than in its transportation, but even so we are seeking to have the Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) delivered to the fuel-user by rail or water transport to minimise this. 
        It is also important to note that we are making SRF precisely so that the maximum carbon benefits of combined heat and power can be reaped at a location where a suitable demand exists. The alternative would be to build a new incinerator that recovers only electricity and that wastes the heat; and this is very specifically what we are not proposing to do.
  • Myth – Residents were not given adequate opportunity to give their views about the plans for Pinkham Way, and no further consultation will be held

    Fact: Throughout the process of proposing these new facilities, NLWA has strived to inform the local community and give them the opportunity to feed back on the proposals.
        Prior to submitting the planning application, we held a wide-ranging ‘pre-application’ public consultation, including three public exhibitions alongside the London Borough of Barnet.
    • A leaflet advertising the exhibitions was distributed to over 11,000 addresses within a 1km radius of the proposed site.
    • We also wrote to local councillors, MPs and residents’ associations to provide details of the exhibitions.
    • Advertisements were placed in local newspapers for two weeks in advance of the exhibitions.
    • We also held a media briefing and issued a press release about the events.
    • Following the exhibitions we also distributed a newsletter to over 17,000 addresses in the local area.
    download – Pinkham Way FAQs or view online
    download - our short guide to modern waste facilities
    download - exhibition boards displayed at the consultation events
    download - The Pinkham Way newsletter
        All residents' concerns and all feedback from the pre-application consultation was considered prior to submitting the planning application to Haringey Council for validation.
        The application is currently on hold so will not be considered by Haringey Council for validation until later in 2012. It is only after this stage that the normal planning consultation processes that residents are used to can start. You should be assured therefore that you will have further opportunities to have your say on the plans.
        Once validated, the application will be available to view on the Haringey Council website. A copy of the application will also be made available on our website and on Barnet Council's website.
        Haringey Council will then hold a formal public consultation on the application; they will write to residents and businesses with details of when this consultation will start and finish. At this stage you will be able to view and comment on our planning application.
        We will continue to keep residents and key stakeholders up to date on the planning application and our wider work.
        A summary of residents’ concerns and feedback from the pre-application consultation has been included in the Report on Community and Stakeholder Engagement which was submitted as part of the planning application to Haringey Council; it will be made available when the application is finalised and validated.
        If you would like to be informed when the formal public consultation period starts please register your details with us by emailing us directly at pinkhamway@nlwa.gov.uk
  • Myth - Problems at other MBT plants show that serious problems of odour from such facilities are not uncommon and can affect areas miles away from the source

    Fact: Any facility proposed at Pinkham Way would be designed to the highest environmental standards and using the latest technology for the avoidance of such problems.
        The buildings in which the waste processing would take place would be designed to manage any dust or odour so that they are effectively mitigated. All processing of waste would take place inside an enclosed building operating under negative pressure so that when the doors are opened to let vehicles in, the air from outside rushes into the building rather than the air from inside the building rushing out.
        All deliveries to the site would be in refuse collection and street cleaning vehicles (the ones collecting from homes and streets in the area) or enclosed bulk containers. Materials leaving the site will also be carried in enclosed containers.
        The site would also comply with all the required environmental standards and be monitored by the Environment Agency and Haringey Council (environmental health and planning).
  • Myth – NLWA asked for air quality regulations at the Pinkham Way site to be relaxed

    Fact (again, presumably): The NLWA has not asked for air quality regulations to be relaxed at the Pinkham Way site.
  • Myth – Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) isn’t a widely used technology for disposing of leftover waste

    Fact: Mechanical Biological Treatment plants have been used for many years all over Europe and beyond to provide a safe, clean way of extracting as much recyclable material as possible from communities’ waste and turning the waste that is then left into useful products such as compost and fuel.
        The UK is currently introducing a significant number of new modern waste facilities, to move away from landfill disposal. There is no single design for these waste facilities; the design is informed by a number of factors, including site location, the required capacity and the type of technology proposed.
        Below are some examples of the type of facilities that are being approved, built or operated elsewhere in England alone, that use similar technology to our proposals at Pinkham Way:
    • Old Kent Road, Bermondsey (London Borough of Southwark)
      This operational 5.6 hectare site has the capacity to manage up to 200,000 tonnes per year in a 29,000sqm facility that includes MBT. The site is located in an urban area, with the nearest residential boundary approximately 10 metres from the edge of the site.
    • Frog Island, Rainham (London Borough of Havering)
      This is an operational facility with capacity to manage 290,000 tonnes per year in facilities including MBT and materials recycling facility on a 4.2 hectare site.
    • Reliance Street, Salford (Greater Manchester)
      This facility opened in April 2011 and provides a MBT facility and Household Waste Recycling Centre on a 3.1 hectare site with capacity to manage 100,000 tonnes per year. The site is close to a railway line, and a housing area.
    • Donarbon, Waterbeach (Cambridgeshire)
      This is an operational facility on a 3 hectare site with the capacity to manage up to 200,000 tonnes per year. The facilities include Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT), and enclosed and open-air composting alongside a larger landfill site.
    • Rivenhall Airfield (Essex)
      Two planning permissions have been granted, one for a 510,000 tonnes per year MBT at this site, and another for a 835,000 tonnes per year waste facility, including a range of technologies alongside MBT.
  • Myth - Haringey Council tried to make it easier for NLWA to build new facilities at Pinkham Way by re-designating the use of the site in its “Core Strategy”

    Fact: This is not correct. When complete, Haringey Council’s Core Strategy will provide the long-term spatial vision and spatial planning policies for the borough. In developing the Core Strategy, Haringey Council reviewed the designations of employment land in the borough.
        This change was not related to the NLWA’s planning application for Pinkham Way, and was rather about a proposed re-designation of a number of sites (including Pinkham Way) in the Core Strategy from their original designation as “employment locations” to “locally significant industrial sites”. We believe a waste facility would be an acceptable use under either designation. 
        At a recent examination hearing an independent planning inspector considered the proposed change in more detail and in the case of Pinkham Way additionally reviewed the proposed change within the context of the site’s additional designation for nature conservation.
        However, whatever definition is eventually applied following the inspector’s report, we believe the proposals put forward by the Authority and LB Barnet for the Pinkham Way site are appropriate and compatible with the site’s established dual designation for employment use and nature conservation. The site may also be specifically suitable, and allocated for waste use, subject to the outcome of the North London Waste Plan examination hearing and Inspector’s report.
        Within this context, the site has been identified and put forward in the “proposed submission version” of the North London Waste Plan by the seven north London boroughs as potentially suitable for waste use and as a ‘new’ site within the plan. The GLA’s view on this is that whilst the dual designation of the Pinkham Way site for both nature conservation and employment ‘presents challenges’, they comment that ”the principle of the use of this site for a waste use is accepted”.
        Further information on Haringey Council’s Core Strategy consultation is available at the London Borough of Haringey website.
  • Myth - DEFRA withdrew PFI funding from the NLWA for the Pinkham Way proposals because the project would no longer be needed in order to meet the 2020 landfill diversion targets set by the European Union

    Fact: The decision by Defra to withdraw PFI funding was not an indication of local lack of need; it was a UK wide decision, that was based on the view that no further financial support was necessary from central government in order for the UK to meet its overall landfill diversion targets. 
        This then left those projects that had had funding withdrawn, but still had a local need for new facilities to pursue their own funding lines if they so wished.
        New facilities are vital to meet the local requirement for new waste treatment facilities, to alleviate the impact of the rising cost of landfill taxes and to provide replacement facilities for the expected closure of the Edmonton incinerator, which was used to dispose of 47% of north London’s municipal waste in 2010/11.
        NLWA has a clear and sound business case for the project, which was agreed as part of our application for PFI credits and which indeed led to the original record breaking award of £258.4 million. This, and a revised business case following the cut of government PFI credit support, can be found at http://www.nlwa.gov.uk/procurement/key-documents
        The business case for the procurement project includes a section comparing the cost of the ‘reference project’; a theoretical mix of waste facilities which would enable us to reach our targets and a ‘do minimum’ option.
        The cost for the reference project in nominal terms was projected to be nearly £7.7 billion over the life of the contract compared to the ‘do minimum’ option costing nearly £7.9 billion, resulting in a saving of over £200 million to local council tax payers over the project lifetime as a result of the procurement. Since that time the rate of landfill tax has also increased, making the financial case for moving away from landfill disposal even greater.
        In addition, as the Chair of the Authority noted in July 2011 when two bidders were shortlisted to submit detailed solutions to the Authority: “FCC/ Skanska and Veolia have both put forward excellent solutions that over-achieve against our modelled costs and ambitions for a future waste management solution that significantly improves our environmental performance and saves local council taxpayers money.”
        Whilst the Authority is not in a position to reveal costing information we anticipate that the outturn of the procurement process will be better than the conservative analysis included in the Outline Business Case.
  • Myth – Building a new waste plant will increase traffic congestion and pollution on local roads, with over 560 lorries going to and from the plant every day

    Fact: One of the reasons why the Pinkham Way site has been chosen is because it is adjacent to a major trunk road with enough capacity to handle the numbers of vehicles that will enter and leave the site.
        We estimate that 335 operational vehicles would visit the site each day. Small (non-operational) vehicles, such as staff cars, may take the total number up to 560 a day. It should be noted that this will be a redistribution of vehicles already using the local road network, so there will be no overall increase in traffic numbers even though there will clearly be more vehicles than at present going to the Pinkham Way site. 
        However, this should be set in the wider context of the average 40,000 vehicles per day passing the Pinkham Way site on the east and westbound carriageways of the A406/North Circular Road.
        Further detail of traffic management or other measures that may be put in place to alleviate any potential problems will be given when we submit a detailed planning application.
  • Myth - An MBT plant will cut down the need to recycle our waste. Instead, this waste will be needed to keep the plant working, or in other words, ‘feed the monster’

    Fact: We will not build a plant that is too big for the NLWA area.
    We are currently still sending much waste to landfill sites outside of London, which is both expensive for council tax payers and a relatively poor environmental solution. It is proposed that the Pinkham Way site would receive and manage around 300,000 tonnes of waste per year. The waste would generally be delivered from the collection rounds in Barnet, western Haringey and western Enfield. Waste from the other north London boroughs will be delivered to the NLWA's other sites.
        As well as a good environmental case, there is a very strong financial case for NLWA to continue to increase recycling and therefore extract value from waste, through the sale of recycled materials back to manufacturers. Indeed, in 2011, Londoners saved over £30 million in this way by recycling more.
        We are choosing mechanical biological treatment (MBT) as a method of treating the waste that hasn’t been separated by residents for composting or recycling because MBT gives us the ability to remove even more material for composting or recycling and sale back to manufacturers. MBT will also allow us to produce a fuel that will be used in a power station elsewhere, where there is a local demand for heat and electricity.
        Whilst MBT facilities enable us to get the maximum possible recyclable material, and therefore value, out of our waste, it is still vital that residents help by separating out as much of their waste for recycling as possible at the outset. Our aim is to achieve a 50% recycling rate by 2020 (we currently only recycle around 30%) and we're building facilities based on a 50% recycling rate rather than the current recycling rate, so we still need residents to recycle much more.
        Consequently, we will need to continue to promote recycling and invest in schemes that will improve our recycling rates. For example, investments are being made in improving food waste recycling facilities, area-wide networks of textiles and waste electrical and electronic equipment recycling banks, and a wide variety of other initiatives.
        The NLWA and the seven north London borough councils also continue to promote the ‘3 Rs’ – reduce, reuse and recycle – to residents, schools and businesses, and we have recently more than doubled our investment in this area. Our waste prevention programme is conducted through public events, competitions, and campaigns such as promoting home composting, reusable nappies and working to promote the reduction of food waste through the ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ campaign.
  • Myth – After 50 years of non-use, the Pinkham Way site has regenerated itself into green field open land. The proposed waste facility would destroy six hectares of green space that is rich in biodiversity

    Fact: The Pinkham Way site is overgrown, although the evidence of previous human activities remains in evidence in the unnatural topography formed by previous sewage works, landfilling, and in fly-tipping across the site.  There are also extensive areas of invasive and dangerous plant species such as Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed.
        This overgrowth does not mean it is now a “greenfield” site.  The site is contaminated, it has extensive invasive species and elements of the former sewage works structures remain.  All of these issues would need to be addressed before any beneficial use could be made of the site. 
        The Authority accepts that the site is of nature conservation value as evidenced by its Borough Level Grade 1 status as a SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation). However, the site is also designated for employment use in the Haringey Urban Development Plan and as a Locally Significant Industrial Site in their Core Strategy Proposed Submission version.
        There is an opportunity to regenerate this unused derelict land, give over parts of the site to ecology, and create around 60 local jobs in the operational phase alone, whilst providing a high quality waste and recycling facility to manage waste from the local area.
        The planning application has taken full account of the biodiversity interests of the site in its proposed solution.

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