Four years ago, Simon Hoar, a cabinet member in the Conservative group that controls the Town Hall, was distributing leaflets in Waddon ward offering a solemn promise that he and his colleagues, if re-elected to the council, would stop the development of a waste incinerator, “or anything similar”, being built in or on the borders of Croydon.
By playing to the understandable fears of Waddon residents about the long-term health impact of an industrial plant burning millions of tons of other people’s rubbish, with the resulting exhaust billowing out over thousands of homes, day-in, day-out, over the course of decades, Hoar and his Tory colleagues, Claire Hilley and Tony Harris, were duly re-elected in May 2010.
The Croydon Tories’ 2010 election incinerator leaflet was a lie.
Within a few months of their re-election, Hoar, Hilley and Harris, together with the rest of the Conservative group which retained control of Croydon Town Hall, duly voted to support a scheme to build an incinerator at Beddington Lane under a publicly financed £1 billion deal with operators Viridor.
It is not recorded whether the Waddon Tories’ election pledge leaflets were burned or sent to landfill. Few locals expect them to re-cycle that particular election pledge in the months leading up to the council elections in May next year.
After being re-elected, Hoar was installed as a member of florid-faced Mike Fisher’s front bench Tory “team” on the council, for which he now receives £43,339 per year in “allowances”.
Six months ago, Hoar was out walking the streets of Waddon again, distributing more leaflets. This time, Hoar’s leaflets came from Viridor. They were like little booklets, full of the company’s own spin – propaganda – about how burning rubbish that has been trucked in from miles around by thousands of HGV lorries was somehow good for the economy and the environment.
Viridor’s leaflet ran to 12 pages. Yet no where did it address any of the health risks inherent with burning millions of tons of rubbish, and it devoted just four short paragraphs, buried like landfill deep on its eighth page, to the safety measures to be employed at their plant.
“The facility will be closely monitored by the Environment Agency to ensure that it meets the strict emissions criteria set out in the European Union’s Waste Incineration Directive,” it said, promising stricter Nitrous Oxide limits than required by the EU, and promising to protect “health and the environment”.
Hoar made his latest delivery round on behalf of Viridor just days before a crucial planning meeting at Sutton Council. With the backing of LibDem Sutton, plus Tory-run Kingston and Labour-controlled Merton as well as Croydon’s Tories, the Beddington Lane incinerator was eventually given the go-ahead.
Key in this decision was having the plans approved by the Environment Agency.
As Inside Croydon has reported previously, the EA’s record on predicting emissions from waste incinerators is just a tad flaky. “Saying that a waste-burning incinerator won’t harm health is easy. Proving it is impossible,” Michael Ryan wrote in August.
Now, Private Eye reports that the Environment Agency’s inspection regime for emissions of fine particulates – the sort of stuff that cause cancer, heart attacks and strokes and which incinerators can pump into the atmosphere – is flawed to the point of being utterly worthless.
This week’s issue of the magazine reports, “The Environment Agency requires modern incinerators merely to have bag filters in the flue which collect a deposit from the smoke. An agency leaflet claims these are 99 per cent effective – but a letter obtained by the Eye from the EA quotes very different figures in 2010 for the Veolia incinerator in Newhaven, East Sussex. The local EA officer writes that bag filters will only be 65-70 per cent effective for PM 2.5 particles…” meaning particles that are 2.5 microns in diameter or more.
It gets worse:
“… below the diameter of PM 2.5, the bag filters are only 5-30 per cent effective.”
So much for the Environment Agency offering any real safeguards to the health of the people living anywhere near the fall-out from the Beddington Lane incinerator.
The Private Eye report offers further causes for concern: “Incinerator companies,” it says, presumably including Viridor, “can pay private companies to conduct tests for PM 2.5 once a year, and choose the day in advance.”
According to a whistleblower who has been in contact with the Eye, even if the emissions test is a “fail”, it is sometimes unreported to the Environment Agency, the test being re-taken when the incinerator is “burning cleaner rubbish”.
It continues: “The EA runs no inspections or unannounced visits and the site is untested for 363 days of the year.”
So not for the first time, Croydon councillor Simon “I’m Cheap But I’m Not Free” Hoar has been handing out leaflets that contains a promise that won’t be kept. And residents, their children and grandchildren of Waddon and Croydon seem likely to pay with their health for years to come.
- Environment Agency has failed London on incinerator permit
- Infant death rates on the rise where incinerators operate
- Radioactive and nuclear waste included in incinerator deal
Coming to Croydon
- Behind the Candelabra: Nov 4
- Frankenstein’s Travelling Freakshow: Nov 5-8
- Poppy Cafe, Coulsdon, re-opening: Nov 9
- The Kings of Summer: Nov 11
- St Giles School open morning: Nov 13
- Secret Love at the Ashcroft Theatre: Nov 14
- Summer in February: Nov 18
- Much Ado About Nothing: Nov 25
- Future Tech City: Nov 30
- Comedy in Music show: Dec 1
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
- Post your comments on this article below.
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at email@example.com