NLWA response to the Defra call for evidence on the RDF market in

Residual Waste Team
Area 2B Nobel House
17 Smith Square
[email protected]
Dear Sir or Madam,
Thank you providing the North London Waste Authority with the opportunity to respond to
the Call for Evidence relating to the Refuse Derived Fuel Market in England
The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) is one of the six statutory joint waste disposal
authorities in England and one of the four in London. It is the second largest waste disposal
authority in England, handling circa 800ktpa tonnes per annum of municipal solid waste
(MSW) from the following boroughs: Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington
and Waltham Forest. The NLWA operates an energy-from-waste (EfW) facility at Edmonton
where circa 530ktpa of waste of waste left over after recycling and composting is burnt to
produce electricity, thereby displacing fossil fuel extraction and consumption.
Therefore, the Authority regards the production of electricity from waste to be of greater
benefit than consigning waste to landfill, making a real and positive contribution to the UK’s
generating capacity, meeting renewable energy targets and assisting with energy security in
Europe. As such, the NLWA is broadly supportive of refuse derived fuel (RDF) being sent to
overseas facilities where it is economically advantageous, does not undermine local energy
ambitions, and is environmentally safe/effective.
However, the NLWA only considers this to be a short to medium term opportunity and that
greater encouragement should be given to increasing domestic energy-from-waste capacity
for residual wastes, particularly commercial and industrial waste. The UK could benefit from
the energy value in the waste rather than continental countries; even if it is possible to import
back the electricity from UK RDF in the short term, it would seem illogical to do this in the
long term. This follows on from the NLWA’s view that while producers of RDF are able to
enjoy low gate fees at European facilities in the short term due to a combination of
depreciation and spare capacity, as European facilities come off line or other waste
producers compete with UK exports, replacement capacity will need to be provided here in
the UK.
North London Waste Authority
Call for Evidence – RDF Market in England
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One of the reasons the UK can currently benefit from nearby continental capacity is due to
decisions made by municipalities to build significant capacity and to take a longer term
perspective on investment/operation (longer depreciation periods or debt-free periods) than
can usually be achieved through private sector schemes that are often predicated in the UK
on a twenty-year repayment period for principal bank debt. An improved understanding of
the rationales and commercial approaches taken elsewhere in Europe might help the UK
identify and implement optimal long-term solutions here that contribute to waste service
security and energy security objectives.
Consideration should also be given to how local authority controlled wastes can help deliver
capacity for commercial & industrial wastes. This could increase the chances of developing
UK energy capacity and would be particularly beneficial where it can be done in conjunction
with heat off-take. Here, if encouraged by government, local authorities could take a longer
term strategic view of infrastructure needs beyond usual commercial timeframes considered
under private finance schemes, and in the long term provide greater value to both the
residents they serve and local businesses together with helping with UK energy security.
Notwithstanding this, in the short to medium term, the NLWA recognises the need for a
common regulatory approach to the production, storage, and transportation of RDF to
ensure that the risk of potential environmental harm is minimised, and to ensure consistency
and appropriate quality across the marketplace.
If you require any further clarification of the points raised in our response or have additional
queries please do not hesitate to contact the Authority’s Technical Solutions Manager,
Euston Ling ([email protected]).
Yours sincerely,
Andrew Lappage
Head of Operations
North London Waste Authority
Call for Evidence – RDF Market in England
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