Campaigners have called for a halt to the construction of a waste-burning plant in north London and urged authorities to consider greener alternatives.

Extinction Rebellion has written to more than 400 councillors calling for a rethink of the new Edmonton Incinerator, which is part of a £1.2 billion scheme being planned for the south-east of Enfield.

Seven councils are involved in the project – Enfield, Barnet, Haringey, Waltham Forest, Camden, Hackney and Islington.

Together with a new recycling centre, the energy-from-waste facility will process up to 700,000 tonnes of waste a year, at peak capacity, by 2051. Construction is due to start in 2022.

The North London Waste Authority – which was formed by the seven councils involved in the scheme – says the plant will cut carbon emissions compared to landfill sites, while generating electricity and heat for up to 127,000 homes.

But Extinction Rebellion’s letter calls for the project to be paused while an independent review is carried out to look at more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Citing growing public and political opposition to waste incineration, the campaign group has set a deadline of May 20 for councillors to act.

Extinction Rebellion claims the waste-burning plant will pump out roughly 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – equal to ten per cent of north London’s total emissions.

There are also concerns over air quality, with the current incinerator emitting more than a tonne of particulate matter 2.5 – which has been linked to heart and lung problems – in 2018.

Extinction Rebellion warns the £1.2 billion cost of the overall project would saddle councils with a large debt burden, with a further risk of the plant becoming a loss-making asset.

The group wants an independent assessment of the scheme to take into account environmental targets, including councils’ commitments to reach net zero-carbon emissions and the Mayor of London’s target to recycle 65 per cent of waste by 2030.

It proposes greener alternatives to incineration, such anaerobic digestion and better reuse and recycling infrastructure.

For waste that cannot be recycled, Extinction Rebellion suggests alternatives that produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants – including ‘distributed modular gasification’, which turns plastics into electricity.

In a statement, the North London Waste Authority said: “We share the strength of feeling about the need to combat climate change. As a waste authority, our greatest priority is to tackle the climate emergency and preserve resources for future generations. We’re acting now to reduce waste, increase recycling rates and treat non-recyclable waste as a resource.

“The current energy from waste plant at the Edmonton EcoPark is coming to the end of its life. Our project to replace it is the most effective and sustainable solution to managing the waste that is leftover after recycling.

“Pausing our plans to build the new facility would be irresponsible, risking up to 700,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste going to landfill in the future.

“This co-ordinated and responsible solution to dealing with waste and recycling will enable north London to lead the way on tackling the climate emergency declared by our boroughs.”

The authority also pointed out it provides public reuse and recycling centres and runs range of other initiatives to increase recycling.