First up: THE INCINERATOR
THE ISSUE: As a society, we cannot continue to use land-fill for dumping our rubbish and waste. Government “green taxes” make it increasingly expensive. Environmentally, it is unsustainable.
Croydon’s Tories are fond of boasting how they have overseen an increase in recycling rates in the borough. Yet with the Viridor incinerator, they want to send more of the borough’s waste to be burned instead of recycled.
Often portrayed as an issue for wards in the north of the borough which are in the immediate “fall-out zone” from the incinerator, this is also an issue for the south of the borough due to the high volume of industrial traffic the building and fuelling of the incinerator will create.
Through the South London Waste Partnership, the four boroughs have committed to a contract with Viridor worth £1 billion over 25 years. Millions of tons of rubbish from the four boroughs, and from across south-east England, will be trucked in on polluting HGVs off the M25 and driven through Coulsdon, Purley and along the Purley Way to be burned at Beddington Lane.
Little, if any, on-site sorting of the waste will go on, so there is no way of knowing what toxic materials might be sent for incineration, with the particles and gasses being pumped into the atmosphere over Croydon.
The incinerator is to be built right next to what was supposed to be a cherished country park, and close to a site which is already home to hundreds of species of wildlife.
There is growing evidence that there is already an over-capacity of waste incinerators in the region, so a new one at Beddington may prove difficult to “fuel” and uneconomic to run.
THE BACKGROUND: Four years ago, the last time the people of Croydon had a chance to vote for who runs their council, the incinerator was a… coughs… hot topic.
The Conservatives, who had run Croydon Council since 2006, accused the Labour Party of “scaremongering” over its claim that together with three other south London boroughs – LibDem-run Sutton and Kingston and Labour-controlled Merton – they were planning to build a massive waste-burning incinerator near the borough boundaries.
Croydon’s Tories even produced leaflets dismissing the claims, and in Waddon ward the three Conservative councillors – Clare Hilley, Tony Harris and cabinet member Simon Hoar – handed out leaflets saying that they would oppose any incinerator being built “in or on the borders of Croydon”. A few months after being re-elected, Hilley, Harris and Hoar all voted in favour of building the incinerator at Beddington Lane.
Councillor Hilley has opted not to seek re-election, while Hoar and Harris are standing again in the borough’s most marginal ward.
THE 2014 CROYDON MANIFESTO PROMISES:
- Conservative: The Croydon Tories don’t have a borough-wide manifesto. In any case, as they showed on the incinerator in 2010, what they say before an election cannot be relied upon. Everything indicates that Croydon’s Tories are firmly in favour of using millions of pounds of public money to pay a commercial firm to poison the air that generations of Croydon people will breathe.
- Labour: They say they are opposed to the incinerator, but they hold back from saying that they will pull out of the Viridor contract. The difficulty for Croydon Labour here is that Merton, which is a Labour-run borough, is fully signed up to the Viridor deal and has not been persuaded to ditch it. Lambeth South MP Steve Reed OBE has been noticeably quiet on this issue.
- LibDems: With Sutton and Kingston signed up to the Viridor scheme, Croydon’s LibDems are fully behind it. They say it is “an acceptable way of dealing with non-recyclable waste”. Acceptable to whom?
- UKIP: As UKIP does not have a party whip, even if they do manage to get a handful of councillors elected to the Town Hall, once there they are free to vote as they wish. So anything they promise now is virtually worthless. They pledge a referendum on the incinerator – or another way of “burning” large amounts of public money.
- Greens: This is as disappointing as it is surprising. The Greens do not say that they will scrap the incinerator. This is the clearest indication that for those who oppose the Viridor scheme, the prospect of paying compensation to the company for cancelling the deal is scaring them politically. Since each of the four boroughs will be paying Viridor around £10 million a year for 25 years under the contract, it appears even the Greens have put a price on the health of generations. Like UKIP, they too suggest a referendum. Catchy election slogan: “Vote Green, and get to vote again!”
INSIDE CROYDON’S ELECTION VERDICT: The 2014 party policies may appear to be different, but the end result will be the same for Croydon: unless the legal challenge against the incinerator is successful, or Viridor get 11th hour cold feet, then the Beddington Lane incinerator will be built.
We can therefore expect an increase in the volume of polluting HGV traffic throughout the borough; and potentially toxic pollution will be pumped into the air, day-in, day-out for decades, and all over the nice new £1 billion Hammersfield shopping centre. Nice.
- For more background on the issues around the Beddington Lane incinerator, view our archive of reports here
Inside Croydon’s recent coverage of the local elections:
- Threat of UKIP forces Tories to press the panic button
- WEST THORNTON: Tories forget to include entire ward in election ad
- These are the councillors who voted to build on a public park
- Questions mount over political influence at council
- What Barwell fails to tell you and the myths of Council Tax
- Council allowances and local politicians’ secret consensus
- The list of candidates for the May 22 local elections
Coming to Croydon
- Thornton Heath local election hustings, May 14
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- David Lean Cinema: The Invisible Woman, May 15
- Broad Green local election hustings, May 15
- Coulsdon West local election hustings, May 16
- Mrs McMoon and Signor Baffo at Stanley Halls, May 17
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Warehouse International Palywriting Festival, May 17-18
- Riverside Animal Centre Open Day, May 18
- Coulsdon East local election hustings, May 19
- St Giles’ primary school open morning, May 21
- David Lean Cinema: The Rocket, May 22
- Greek Myths: stories and mask-making, May 27
- Howard Marks: Scholar, Smuggler, Prisoner, Scribe, May 29
- David Lean Cinema: Dallas Buyers Club, May 29
- Tales from Ancient Greece, Upper Norwood Library, May 29
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, May 31
- Stitch Pitch quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, June 2
- Croydon Tech City “summit”, June 6
- Lakes Playground Action Group fun day, June 14
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, June 15
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Classic Car Show at Purley Rotary Fields, June 22
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- South Norwood Allotments open day, June 28
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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