Anyone who tries to drive along the Purley Way, whether as a route to work or simply to visit any of the retail sheds that line the urban motorway, already knows it can be a pretty dispiriting experience.
Last Friday morning, it was worse than that, when a lorry carrying tons of waste tipped over on the road. The A23 was blocked in both directions for hours, the southbound carriageway remaining closed for most of the morning rush hour and beyond.
Yet Friday’s disruption and traffic chaos could just be a taste of things to come.
Once Viridor’s industrial-scale waste incinerator – funded by four south London councils, including Croydon – is functioning and firing on all cylinders, there could be 1,000 lorry journeys a day travelling in and out of Beddington Lane to keep the voracious incinerator burning.
The increased traffic – heavy HGV lorries just like Friday’s overturned artic on the Purley Way – is an often overlooked aspect of the environmental disaster which Sutton Council, backed up by Croydon, Merton and Kingston, is about to inflict upon this part of south London.
The damage will begin during the construction phase for the Viridor incinerator. But once that plant, one of a dirty dozen incinerators which have been granted permission to operate in one concentrated corner of Beddington, is operational, the traffic will continue, with 20-ton lorries bringing in other people’s rubbish and carrying away the resultant ash, day-in-day-out, for at least three decades.
“The potential for more accidents is all too obvious,” a spokesperson for the Stop the Incinerator Campaign said after Friday’s lorry crash, in which no one was seriously hurt. “If any other vehicle had been caught under the lorry as it tipped over, the consequences are frightening.”
- Meanwhile, the Progress MP for the area of Croydon likely to be worst affected by this environmental disaster, Steve Reed OBE, remains virtually silent on the issue. Reed is backing Liz Kendall for the Labour leadership and Dame Tessa Jowell as Labour’s candidate for London Mayor. Dame Tessa, on a brief visit to Croydon last week, admitted she knew nothing of the Beddington Lane incinerator, even though the exhaust from its chimneys are projected to be blown right across her former Dulwich constituency and her own home.
- Recent estimates suggest that nearly 10,000 Londoners die each year due to the effects of the city’s polluted air.
- Visit the London Air Quality Network website for more information
- £1bn incinerator deal and Viridor’s £275,000 “gift” back in the spotlight
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