Protesters to take Croydon’s burning issue to the streets

Campaigners are taking to the streets in Croydon next weekend

A wide-ranging alliance of Croydon and Sutton residents and businesses will march on Croydon Town Hall next Sunday, May 13, to oppose the council’s £1billion plan to build a waste incinerator in Beddington Lane.

The demonstration will start at 11am outside Mayday Hospital, and will finish by laying a wreath on the steps of the Town Hall to highlight the deadly long-term risks associated with burning rubbish and releasing its emissions into the atmosphere in the middle of a highly populated residential area, blighting its schools, businesses and even hospitals.

“Mayday Hospital was chosen as the start point for the march because it is close to the epicentre of the emissions plume from the incinerator, and so it will bear the brunt of the anticipated increase in respiratory diseases and other seriously damaging health effects,” a spokesman for the Stop the Incinerator campaign said.

According to campaigner Shasha Khan, “It is clear that this issue is burning – quite literally – and we would urge everyone, whatever your political colours, to join us on the march.

“I remember reading a Tweet from Inside Croydon saying, ‘Wake up Croydon’ with regard to the incinerator. You are right! We need to wake up! It is fair to say other anti-incinerator campaigns around the country have a lot more people involved.

“The demographics of the area affected impacts our ability to raise awareness. Many people living in north-west Croydon don’t speak English as a first language. A march will help our cause.”

In 2009, the Croydon Conservatives published: “We have made it absolutely clear that Croydon Conservatives do not support incineration at all and will absolutely not have an incinerator in our borough or support one close to our borders.”

At that time, they added, just to ensure that there could be no misunderstandings: “Croydon Conservatives believe that incineration will never be a sensible option in this densely populated part of the country and have already made it very clear that we will not introduce an incinerator (or an incinerator by another name) anywhere in the borough whilst we are in control.”

As recently as 2010, local Conservatives campaigned for your votes on a solemn pledge to oppose the development of any incinerator “in or near” Croydon. By winning seats in a couple of key wards in Croydon close to the proposed site of the incinerator, the Conservatives retained control of Croydon Council.

Yet in 2012, Croydon Conservatives voted in favour of an incinerator, or “an incinerator by another name”, what they are now choosing to euphemistically describe as an “energy recovery plant”. Yeah, an incinerator.

Viridor is working towards a 25-year contract with four councils, worth £1bn, which depends on the area re-cycling less, and burning it instead in an incinerator

“Our elected officials should be listening to the concerns and needs of the people they represent, and they are not,” said Dave Pettener, from the Stop the Incinerator campaign.

“They should be protecting the health and well-being of the local people, but instead they are guilty of serving only themselves and the needs of big business.

“We have been lied to, misled and manipulated ever since the incinerator proposals first came to light four years ago. Not that you were allowed to call it an ‘incinerator’.

“For years we took part in a sham consultation that invited us to comment on a proposal that wouldn’t say what they were going to build or where they were going to build it.

“A portion of the rubbish going to the incinerator will be commercial and industrial waste and some figures suggest that 97 per cent of that waste could be recycled if the facilities were provided,” Pettener said.

Pettener and other anti-incinerator supporters believe that Croydon, together with Sutton, Merton and Kingston, have basically handed over to their contractors, Viridor, the opportunity to maximise their profits from the authorities’ waste, at the expense of the long-term health of generations of south Londoners.

Much of the energy-from-waste plan depends on the four boroughs continuing to generate massive volumes of rubbish for the incinerator to be economically viable. Yet if recent progress in recycling rates were to continue, the four boroughs would not deliver enough waste to feed the voracious incinerator.

Which would mean that it would very soon be uneconomical, or the contractors and boroughs would have to begin trucking in ever-increasing amounts of domestic, industrial and potentially hazardous waste from across the rest of London and south-east England, creating even worse levels of pollution and a permanent blight on Croydon and Sutton.

“We have to reduce what is going to landfill, and this is already happening,” Pettener said. “If recycling continues to rise at the current rates, by the time the incinerator is built there won’t be enough waste to run it and Viridor will have to import rubbish from outside the area to make the incinerator economically viable.

“This means that even if we get our rubbish under control we will have to deal with other people’s for at least the next 25 to 30 years.

“In the short-term this will save the council money in less landfill tax but it won’t be Viridor who have to pay for the long-term health costs. Being a business they put profits before people and have of course gone for the cheaper option which is incineration.”

More information about next Sunday’s march, and the waste disposal alternatives which have longer term possibilities can be found by visiting the campaign website:

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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