Lakeside’s replacement is essential, but better to cancel a 3rd Runway

Ever since I became an MP in 2005 I have fought tooth and nail against a 3rd Runway at Heathrow. Windsor would be one of the constituencies worst impacted by this misled project, and the constant stream of correspondence I have with constituents throughout the past 14 years has kept me acutely aware of the broad array of negative consequences it would have. There really are almost too many to cover.  

One such issue that is often overlooked is the fate of Lakeside Energy from Waste (EfW).

Lakeside EfW is a crucial local and regional asset. It processes 440,000 tonnes of waste from as far afield as Wiltshire and West London. This is more than the non-recyclable waste produced in a year by the people of Birmingham and Manchester combined. It also generates enough electricity to power 56,000 homes, almost the population of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.  

If a 3rd Runway went ahead and the facility had to be demolished, then it would have to be replaced. There would simply be no alternative. This was the conclusion of both the Airports Commission and the Environmental Audit Committee. 

Replacing Lakeside EfW will be a mammoth task involving decommissioning, demolition, rebuilding and testing. The costs will easily exceed £500m and could easily reach £1bn. Indeed, it is currently suggested that the new facility will only be 600 metres to the north of the current one. That’s more than £1m per metre!  

The facility would have to be relocated before work on a 3rd Runway begins. If not, and there is a gap in waste management, then approximately 1,500 tonnes of waste a day across the south of England will have to be dumped into landfill. This is important in the context of Heathrow’s timetable, which is already behind schedule and under pressure from legal action aiming to scupper a 3rd Runway entirely. 

And that is before the lengthy planning process has been completed. Whilst consultations are absolutely essential in ensuring that the process has public consent, incinerators can be contentious topics and a lengthy consultation is both likely, and necessary.  

Relocating the plant will take a minimum of five years, including one year alone for planning permission, three years for construction and another year for decommissioning the current plant. All that makes Heathrow’s target of having a new runway operational by 2023 pretty much unachievable and any delay whatsoever would push Heathrow’s already farcical timeline beyond the realms of possibility. 

But there is an alternative to demolishing Lakeside EfW in the first place: permitting Gatwick to build an additional runway instead of Heathrow would be, simpler, cheaper, greener and, most importantly, quicker. 

A 3rd Runway at Heathrow would further entrench Heathrow’s monopoly, wouldn’t be as good for passengers, and would cause 2.2 million people to be more affected by noise pollution. 

It is time for the Government to abandon the group think and opt to permit expansion at Gatwick. If it does not do so, then the costly replacement of Lakeside EfW will be just one of the many hurdles that will result in a 3rd Runway being the biggest white elephant of all time at Heathrow.


Notes to editors

  1. Adam Afriyie has been Member of Parliament for Windsor since 2005.
  2. Adam Afriyie has campaigned against a 3rd Runway at Heathrow since he became an MP in 2005.
  3. He is a founding member of the No 3rd Runway Coalition.
  4. To view more of Adam’s work in this area please click here.