Sadiq Khan has received an appeal from a local councillor this week, asking him to use his powers as Mayor of London to block a district heating scheme to be powered by the Beddington Lane incinerator, so that he might “prevent Sutton Council exploiting the most vulnerable residents”.
“The death of one pensioner has been attributed to inflated district heating bills. Death from hypothermia has been replaced by death from outrageous heat bills,” Nick Mattey wrote in his appeal.
Mattey is an independent councillor in Sutton and a candidate in Carshalton and Wallington at the General Election on June 8. In his letter, he calls on the Mayor to act against SDEN, the Sutton District Energy Network, which is to provide heating to the Barratt’s Felnex development, now more prosaicly titled the New Mill Quarter.
“If it is within your power to stop SDEN, it will save many people from fuel poverty,” Mattey writes.
In his letter to the Mayor of London, Mattey says, “You recently attended a public meeting in Wallington and were kind enough to answer a question from me regarding the proliferation of Energy from Waste plants in Beddington. Beddington will soon have a 300,000-ton-a-year incinerator operating a few miles from the London Extra Low Emission Zone. Sutton Council has also granted permission for 150,000-ton-a-year waste burning gasification plant 1km away from the larger incinerator.
“I would like to meet you and discuss the worsening air quality that will result from having so many plants concentrated in one area. Already this north-east part of the London Borough of Sutton seems to have a disproportionate number of asthma sufferers. Several schools are in the shadow of these polluting operations.
“Other countries are planning to shut down their incinerators in the next 25 years. This makes sense, as the benefits of moving to a zero carbon economy are obvious and global warming must be tackled by reducing carbon emissions. The London Borough of. Sutton, by contrast, has a vested interest in keeping the Viridor incinerator operating for as long as possible, beyond 25 years.
“Why is this? Sutton Council has formed a business that depends on the incinerator’s continued operation to ever make a profit. The business is SDEN Ltd, a small-scale district heat network that sells heat from the Viridor incinerator. The council plans to heat a housing development (Barratts New Mill Quarter) from the incinerator. The very limited scope of the network and the huge infrastructure costs mean users of the scheme will face punitive heat costs. They will not be rescued from fuel poverty, as Sutton council have claimed.
“I am sure that you are aware of the furore over the cost of district heating at the Elephant and Castle scheme. The New Mill Quarter in Hackbridge could soon face similar swingeing heat costs. There will be up to 160 dwellings set aside for social housing. Why should these families and freeholders and renters face huge heating bills? The death of one pensioner in the Oval Quarter has been attributed to inflated district heating bills. Death from hypothermia has been replaced by death from outrageous heat bills.
“The Liberal Democrats who control Sutton Council have claimed that CO2 savings of 450 ton a year are possible from their heat network. This is trivial amount, when compared to the 300,000 tons of CO2 emitted each year by the Viridor incinerator. The cocktail of pollutants that will spew into the atmosphere is frightening. The toxic emissions will be roughly equivalent to 14km of motorway running through south London. The prevailing wind will ensure much of the pollution blows into central London.
“You are the Mayor of London and someone committed to halting deaths from air pollution. I hope that you can confront Sutton Council and stop them making unjustifiable claims about their heat network. Incinerators need to be shut down as soon as possible, not have their life extended. Incinerators, though, very lucrative for operators, cause great damage to the communities that surround them. Many of our European partners no longer regard incinerators as benign, but an environmental disaster.
“Incinerators do not dispose of rubbish. They generate more waste than they start with. One ton of incinerated rubbish produces 250kg of ash and one ton of CO2.
“Their only function is to generate a relatively small amount of electricity and drive global warming. While shareholders in incinerator companies can decide best how to spend their profits, farmers close to the equator will see their crops fail as temperatures continue to rise.
“Please review your support for district heating schemes. Can you please prevent Sutton Council exploiting the most vulnerable residents by extending the life of an incinerator? If it is within your power to stop SDEN, it will save many people from fuel poverty.”
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