The Dirty Dozen: Beddington’s Extra High Emission Zone

It was reported yesterday that twice as many Londoners – around 9,500 – are dying every year as a direct result of the city’s air pollution than was previously estimated.

Poison gas signUndaunted, Croydon’s neighbouring borough, Sutton, is bulldozing through with plans which will see it establish what many people believe will be a world’s first along Beddington Lane:

an Extra High Emission Zone.

Taunton-based Viridor will start building its 300,000-ton a year Beddington waste incinerator within weeks. Residents will soon be able to share their roads with rumbling HGVs and clogging traffic jams as up to 500 workers construct Sutton’s biggest ever civil engineering project. The incinerator’s twin 300-foot chimneys – nicknamed “Lib” and “Dem” – will soon loom over the skylines of Beddington Park and Mitcham Common.

The Viridor plant will be the 12th “energy recovery facility” planned or operating in the  Beddington Lane Extra High Emission Zone.

Viridor already has five industrial landfill gas engines burning off explosive methane gas at the site.

Thames Water boasts two large anaerobic digesters in operation, with a third due to follow.

Last year, LibDem-controlled Sutton Council gave permission to LRRE – London Recycling and Renewable Energy – for a 150,000-ton a year gasification plant powered by “solid recovered fuel” – that’s rubbish that has been sorted, and collected from within a 30-mile radius. Yesterday, LRRE announced that they plan to process 200,000 tons a year. Where there’s muck…

Then there is the wood-burning combined heat and power unit at Tone Scaffolding.

And finally, 777 Demolition has permission for a large combined heat and power plant.

It is all part of Sutton’s “Burn It In Beddington” policy, which already stinks quite a bit, especially when the wind is blowing – as it usually does – in the direction of Croydon.

According to some environmental analysts, the oxides of nitrogen released from the Viridor incinerator alone will be equivalent to the combined traffic from a 10-mile stretch of a six-lane motorway.

The two monster incineration plants, LRRE and Viridor, each have voracious appetites, and so 9,000 tons of rubbish from across south London and the south-east will need to be trucked in weekly. That will require around 750 daily HGV lorry movements, bringing rubbish in, carting ash away, around these two plants.

If the fumes from the incinerators don’t get you, then the polluting exhaust emissions from the fleet of lorries’ diesel engines will.

The Beddington Lane Extra High Emissions Zone: Sutton Council has granted permission for the Viridor incinerator and 11 other incinerators in this small area

The Beddington Lane Extra High Emissions Zone: Sutton Council has granted permission for the Viridor incinerator and 11 other incinerators in this small area. A 13th marked above is a Viridor anaerobic digestor which is being decommissioned

It is reckoned that 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide will go up the flues as part of Sutton’s contribution to global warming. Given that some of these incinerators are being used supposedly to reduce our dependency on landfill, it is worth noting that they will generate 90,000 tons of ash that will have to go to landfill every year.

It was in 2013 that London’s Tory Mayor, Boris Johnson, gave permission for the massive Viridor incinerator to be built in Beddington, close to the borough boundary with Croydon. The Mayor’s original concerns about the use of Metropolitan Open Land were addressed by Viridor’s commitment to work with Sutton to build a rubbish-fired network supplying heating to eco homes in Hackbridge. These are eco homes which are so efficient that they don’t actually need this additional heating.

Johnson must have chortled loudly when he was told that the incinerator was located in a LibDem-controlled borough. An astute politician, he hoped that building an incinerator could lead to a LibDem massacre at the next local government elections.

Boris Johnson: it is ok for Croydon Council to charge "punitive" Council Tax on absentee foreign property owners, the Mayor says

Boris Johnson gave thumbs up to Beddington’s 12th incinerator

Never much of a environmentalist, in 2014 Johnson was forced to act to avoid massive EU fines for dangerously poor air quality in central London. His solution – or at least, the solution of one of the Old Etonian’s flunkies at City Hall – was to devise something called an Ultra Low Emission Zone.

That got the Brussels bureaucrats off his back for a while, but meanwhile in Beddington, when he granted permission to Viridor for the waste incinerator, he was managing to create the densest concentration of “energy from waste” plants anywhere in western Europe.

Beddington is less than seven miles from Johnson’s own Ultra Low Emission Zone, as the PM 2.5 particle flies. The unique combination of so many polluting plants added to the diesel fumes from huge numbers of lorry movements has the makings of an air quality disaster.

There’s even a chance, given the prevailing winds, that the deadly cocktail of air pollutants which Boris has blithely imposed on south London could end up blowing all the way to his precious Ultra Low Emission Zone and ruin the Mayor’s clean air space with horrible regularity. Not that that will bother Boris – now an MP, he’s long ago given up taking his Mayor of London duties seriously. What a wheeze (so to speak)!

But spare a thought for the residents of Beddington and Hackbridge, of the north part of Croydon and of Merton. They will get few, if any, benefits from the plants. They will have no cheap electricity nor cheap heating – just a nasty, dry clawing sensation in the back of the throat on bad air days when they forget themselves and try to do what any normal person does: breathe.

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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1 Response to The Dirty Dozen: Beddington’s Extra High Emission Zone

  1. Keeping things simple and for comparison purposes I have added up the YEARLY 54mortalities for both particulates AND Noxes derived from the latests report.I think they are of interest,especially as I have heard that a Sutton councillor said how clean Sutton’s air was !!!
    CROYDON 543
    SUTTON 317
    now TH has some of the filthiest roads in London,but a population virtually equal to that of Sutton.Croydon’s population is bigger than both,so I thought I would also do the rates:
    SUTTON 0.0003
    TOWER HAMLETS 0.0003

    Quelle surprise !

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