An environmentalist who has worked for more than a decade on the Beddington Farmlands site, monitoring the wildlife in an area which was supposed to be transformed into a nature reserve, has been sent a threatening letter by incinerator operators Viridor for taking a guided tour of visitors to the site.
Viridor have been given a £1billion contract by four London boroughs, including Croydon, to operate an industrial-scale incinerator on Beddington Lane for at least 25 years, which will see them burning millions of tons of rubbish in the midst of a highly populated residential area. The land on which the incinerator is being built was supposed to be designated Metropolitan Open Land, MOL, and therefore had some protected status, until this was signed away by Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London.
As part of the deal, Viridor was supposed to conduct extensive work to help rehabilitate the land-fill site near the incinerator for wildlife, and there were promises made by politicians that this area would become a country park.
It was this area where Peter Alfrey, for many years a wildlife warden for the Beddington Farmlands, was leading a tour party in March. One of the group recorded a video during the walk, and posted it to a Change.org page with a petition calling for Viridor to restore the wetlands, as they have legally agreed to do, and to find an alternative to the “monstrous incinerator”.
The petition is addressed to Ruth Dombey, the Liberal Democrat leader of Sutton Council who have consistently supported having an incinerator in their borough.
Here’s the video:
Last week, Alfrey received this letter from Viridor, effectively warning him off from guiding visitors to the nature reserve on which the firm is building its incinerator:
The tone of the letter is overtly hostile, and is a clear effort to intimidate and shut-down opposition to the incinerator – even to the extent that Viridor go to great lengths themselves to avoid mentioning incineration at all (calling the incinerator the euphemistic “energy recovery facility”).
Interestingly, though admitting that the company is only a tenant on the land, Alan Hyde, Viridor’s head of community relations who put his name to the letter, suggests that merely coming close to the incinerator places visitors “at risk”. At risk from what – suffocation from noxious fumes? Exposure to unchecked radiation? The attentions of over-zealous security guards? – is left menacingly unspecified.
Alfrey, as you may expect, is deeply unimpressed. “When a multi-million pound company start threatening local people about a petition that gets less than 200 signatures, it suggests they are up to something very dodgy that they want to keep quiet,” Alfrey said.
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