Beddington incinerator is a burning issue for Surrey

TERRY GARDENER doesn’t live in Croydon, but across the southern boundary in Surrey. He still realises that the smoke and particulates from an incinerator built in Sutton could harm the health of his family and his neighbours.

Viridor cartoon by Gordon RossHere, he sends a message to residents of Reigate and Banstead, Tandridge, Epsom and Ewell, Mole Valley and beyond

Have you heard the one about the adjacent borough councils who are planning to build an incinerator which will endanger your lives, your children’s lives and your elderly relatives lives?

For several years now Sutton borough council has been planning, along with Kingston, Merton and Croydon councils, to find a cheaper way to shift the waste and refuse from all four boroughs. Somewhere along the line they have been persuaded by Viridor, who are in the business of waste disposal, that the way forward is to build an incinerator (they call it rather misleadingly an “ERF”, or energy recovery facility). The problem with this is they want to tie the Boroughs concerned into a 30-year contract to burn many tens of thousand tonnes of waste per annum.

Nothing wrong with that from a business point of view, after all they have to recoup their outlay and make a profit. This is where the cracks start to appear … they have based their figures on a finite amount of refuse being available for the next 30 years, which sounds good as the population is expanding. But, since the idea was mooted, refuse is being recycled at an increasingly more efficient rate, therefore there is likely to be less waste to be incinerated.

Which raises the question: where will the required amount of waste or refuse come from to fuel this incinerator? It would appear, although no one will admit to it, that all the waste that is being sorted and recycled will have to be used to fuel the incinerator or the boroughs concerned will be subject to default payments to their contractor, Viridor.

Now is it me, or does that seem a little ridiculous and a waste of public money?

There is a further and even more alarming side to this whole issue. That is the one of health. Evidence from no less an august body than the World Health Organisation and others are warning against the building of incinerators on the grounds of harmful emissions in form of nano-particulates, carbon dioxide and dioxins.

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

Viridor are working on a long-term contract with four councils, worth £1 billion, which depends on the area re-cycling less, and burning it instead in an incinerator

It is of great concern to me that these boroughs have taken it upon themselves to ignore the burgeoning amount of evidence against incineration and mounting public opposition and given the go ahead for Sutton council, in whose backyard the incinerator will be built, to give planning permission for Viridor to build it.

The fall out from the chimney will effect all of us, not just the four boroughs who have sanctioned it.

At the present, the only person who can stop this happening is Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, who has a responsibility under the metropolitan plan and has the power to refuse the planning application.

I could spend a whole day filing and collating the websites and documents which are against incinerators, but I’ll spare you that. I will however point to the Lewisham incinerator, which is just up the road and illustrates worrying trends in healthcare in the surrounding area.

If you are as concerned about this as I am, then you should write to Boris Johnson at mayor@london.gov.uk and tell him about your concerns, while there is still time. Be aware that any e-mail is limited to a small content. Letters sent by post are not.

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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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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