Councillors in Haringey failed to debate plans for a controversial new waste incinerator despite dozens of campaigners turning up to protest against the scheme.

A demonstration against the Edmonton incinerator rebuild took place outside Tottenham Green Leisure Centre on Monday ahead of a meeting of the full council, five days after a similar protest in neighbouring Enfield.

Opposition Liberal Democrats had tabled a motion ahead of Monday’s meeting calling on Haringey Council to “pause and reconsider” its support for the incinerator. But members of the Labour administration defied a bid to force a debate on the scheme, and the meeting ended before the motion could be heard.

Controversy has raged over the building of the new, larger Edmonton incinerator, which is part of the £1.2 billion North London Heat and Power Project. The plant will take waste from the seven London boroughs – Enfield, Barnet, Haringey, Camden, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Islington – that together form North London Waste Authority (NLWA).

Enfield Independent: The protest against the incinerator outside Tottenham Green Leisure Centre on Monday

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Construction work on the incinerator, which NLWA says will cut emissions and boost recycling, is due to begin next year after preparation work on the site was completed earlier this year. But opponents warn the plant will still release carbon dioxide and other pollutants, and want the authority to look into greener alternatives.

Cllr Scott Emery, the Lib Dem councillor who tabled the motion, posted on Twitter after the meeting that the Labour group had “managed to avoid debate and scrutiny by filibuster”. Councillors spent two and a half hours considering other items on the agenda.

The motion he had tabled called on the council to “pause and reconsider its support for the Edmonton Incinerator project, and lobby other boroughs to do the same”. It proposed consulting with local communities on waste disposal and working with partners at NLWA to come up with an alternative to incineration.

Cllr Emery’s motion said the scheme was “incompatible with both Haringey’s and the UK’s carbon-reduction goals” and would “worsen both economic and racial health disparities”.

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But the motion was subsequently amended by Labour’s Cllr Dana Carlin. Her rewritten motion called on the council to “write to the chair of NLWA asking for their response to the call to ‘pause and reconsider’ concerning the energy recovery facility [incinerator]”.

It also proposed asking NLWA to investigate carbon capture technology sooner than the 2030s.

After more than two hours of the meeting had already elapsed, Lib Dem councillor Julia Ogiehor proposed moving on to debate the incinerator motion – but her attempt, although backed by her opposition colleagues, was voted down by members of the Labour administration.

A deputation on the incinerator scheme from Dr Rembrandt Koppelaar, a researcher who writes about the future of energy and the circular economy, was heard during the meeting.

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Speaking via a remote video link, Dr Koppelaar called on the council to instruct its representatives on the NLWA board to vote against signing a construction contract for the incinerator until the council had conducted due diligence over whether it represents value for money and is compatible with the climate emergency. 

He claimed the NLWA had not evaluated a range of alternative technologies that would be more environmentally friendly and avoid burning waste.

Responding to the deputation, council leader Cllr Peray Ahmet said the council would set up a forum alongside other London boroughs that would work with local communities to “discuss the future of waste disposal” and “focus on the concerns regarding the Edmonton facility and methods for increasing the recycling rate”.

Cllr Ahmet added that the current facility was 20 years out of date, and the new plant will be “one of the cleanest incinerators in the world”. She also claimed the main alternatives to incineration were “significantly worse for the environment”.