They are building an industrial-scale incinerator on a site close by what was officially designated Metropolitan Open Land, a status which implies some sort of public access. And over the next 25 years, they expect to be paid £1 billion of public money for operating the rubbish-burner.
But profiteering waste-burners Viridor seemed slyly suspicious when the public come calling at their site at Beddington Lane, on the borough boundary between Sutton and Croydon, as Sian Berry did yesterday.
Andrew Turner is Viridor’s “Communications Business Partner”. Yesterday, he was on hand, in a less-than-discreet hi-viz jacket, to carefully observe a visit to the site by Berry, the Green Party’s candidate for London Mayor, accompanied by a handful of her camp-followers.
Maybe Turner would have liked to create some sort of smokescreen to mask what his company is doing on the Beddington site? Once the incinerator is operating, of course there will be plenty of opportunity for that…
Shasha Khan, the Croydon Green candidate who was there, said, “We were politely escorted across road and observed. For a second, we were in Pyongyang.”
The incinerator is being built at Beddington Farmlands, just two miles west of Croydon town centre. More than 1 million people live within 10 miles of the site. The incinerator is being constructed at a cost of around £200 million by Viridor Waste (Thames) Ltd, a subsidiary of the stock market-listed Pennon Group. Viridor has a £1billion contract with the South London Waste Partnership – made up of Sutton, Kingston, Merton and Croydon councils – to run the plant.
The plant will have the capacity to burn 300,000 tonnes of waste each year. To maximise its profits, Viridor has tied the councils into a long-term contract to burn more rubbish than is available locally. The plant is now under construction and is scheduled to begin operation in 2018–2019.
Berry has said that she’ll do everything she can to halt the Beddington incinerator if she is elected as Mayor. So there’s no chance of that happening then…
Her rival candidates for Mayor, Labour’s Sadiq Khan and, especially, Tory Zac Goldsmith like to express how “green” they are, but although they are both south London MPs, neither have yet shown any interest in shutting down Viridor’s operation in Sutton.
“Incineration harms both human health and the environment and the Mayor’s own policies acknowledge it’s the worst form of waste management,” Berry said on her visit.
“It produces toxic emissions and nano-particles that are harmful to human health, as well creating greenhouse gases that are terrible for the environment. It also acts as a disincentive to recycling, not least because giant plants like this one will need to import waste to fulfil its long-term contracts and make profits for its shareholders over 25 years.
“Next year’s Mayoral race has been billed as the greenest election ever. My Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour rivals all come from parties who have backed this expensive, environmentally unfriendly scheme, either at City Hall or local council level. I hope they will take the opportunity to distance themselves from those bad decisions by their party colleagues.
“If the facilities were provided, London could reduce, re-use or recycle all its waste. That would save more energy than we could produce from burning it.
“It would also create more jobs without contributing to air pollution or degrading the natural environment. If we are serious about making London the greenest city in the world, we need to embrace these 21st century approaches not the toxic, last-century idea of incineration.”
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