Croydon’s Labour-run council, which was elected on a manifesto of being “ambitious” to be the cleanest and greenest borough in London, has been sending residents’ domestic waste to an incinerator for more than a year.
Work has only recently begun to build the vast, industrial-scale waste incinerator on Beddington Lane to fulfill a £1 billion, 25-year public contract with Viridor.
But according to an answer provided by “Clean and Green” Stuart Collins, the council cabinet member responsible for the borough’s rubbish, to a Town Hall question, for the past 18 months, at least one-fifth of all Croydon’s rubbish has been trucked over to the picturesquely titled “Lakeside ERF”, near the far from picturesque Slough (qv Betjeman).
“ERF” is the misleading acronym adopted by Viridor to disguise their plant’s function as an incinerator; it is supposed to mean “energy recovery facility”, though the evidence that burning of rubbish does anything but generate lots of potentially deadly pollution is scarce.
Croydon, with Sutton, Merton and Kingston, is part of the South London Waste Partnership. The boroughs have bandied together to try to reduce the punitive amounts of landfill tax they pay to the Government – currently £82.50 for each ton of crap that gets thrown down a hole in the ground. Burning rubbish does not attract any such levy.
According to Collins, “Through the partnership’s contract with Viridor, residual waste has consistently been diverted from landfill where possible and in 2014-2015, 20 per cent of the partnership’s waste went to the Lakeside ERF. The partnership is exploring options for waste disposal for residual waste during the construction period for the ERF,” meaning the Beddington Lane incinerator, “… as, now that the facility will be completed later than initially anticipated, it may be necessary to have an alternative provision in place; this could include sending more waste to an alternative ERF for a brief period.”
This strongly suggests, as the anti-incinerator campaign has long maintained, that there is already plenty of incinerator capacity in London and the south-east, and building a new one on Metropolitan Open Land and the site of what was supposed to be a country park is entirely unnecessary and a complete waste of £1 billion of public cash.
It also points to the landfill site at Beddington, which Viridor has the contract to manage, is getting very close to capacity, suggesting that our council and its other local authority partners will have to send even more rubbish to incinerators before the local plant is ready to start spewing its fumes into the atmosphere over Croydon.
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