BELLE MONT, our Sutton reporter, on the latest bit of cant and crass hypocrisy from that borough’s most senior FibDem
Having achieved the dubious accolade of being the answer to a Pointless question, MP Tom Brake seems determined to demonstrate that he is utterly clueless, too.
Brake, the Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, was a chief advocate of siting a polluting waste incinerator on Beddington Lane, on the borough boundary with Croydon, in a £1billion deal for operators Viridor. This is the same Viridor which operates a charity which doled out £275,000 to a church in Brake’s own constituency, and where Brake has often held meetings for his party.
At Westminster last month, Brake tabled an Early Day Motion on air pollution.
It specifically called on Government to end subsidies for “red diesel”. This is the red-dyed, diesel which benefits from a lower rate of VAT, intended as another subsidy for farmers as it is the fuel used mainly in agricultural machinery.
Brake’s motion read: “That this House notes the Government’s plans to tackle Britain’s air pollution crisis and improve air quality…further notes that reduced duty red diesel for certain uses costs HM Treasury £2.4billion annually; believes that subsidising red diesel also inhibits the Government’s plans to support the take-up of cleaner technologies and tackle air pollution effectively…”
This all looks a bit like grandstanding from Brake, who has begun to tag himself as a “Green Liberal Democrat”. Because there’s more than a whiff of a bad smell here, and it’s not just from something burning, because here’s the thing.
The incinerator that is nearing completion on Beddington Lane, in Brake’s own constituency, will burn 2,000 tons of polluting red diesel every year. The red diesel is used to help keep the furnace temperatures high enough to incinerate all that rubbish that Brake has lobbied for, tirelessly, for years to have trucked through Croydon and Sutton, with all the negative consequences for air pollution in the area, even before Viridor burns a single bag of rubbish and its residual particulates get pushed out into the atmosphere.
Most Saturdays, the noxious Brake meets and greets his constituents on the high street in Wallington, close to an air quality monitor. Brake appears oblivious to the fact that this air quality monitor is already registering some of the highest pollution levels of any outer London borough.
Nick Mattey, the Beddington ward councillor who left the Liberal Democrats in disgust over their hypocrisy with the incinerator, told Inside Croydon, “The London Borough of Sutton produces around 30,000 tons of waste per year. The excessively large incinerator at Beddington Lane is being built to handle 305,000 tons of rubbish every year for the next quarter century. That’s 10 times the size required to deal with Sutton’s waste for 25 years.
“That also means that the incinerator which Brake still supports so enthusiastically will also be burning 10 times as much polluting red diesel as it might require if it only dealt with rubbish from Sutton.
“The Mayor of London has declared the capital’s air quality to be a ‘public health crisis’, with more than 9,000 Londoners a year dying prematurely due to long-term exposure to toxic air, though neither Sadiq Khan nor his predecessor, Boris Johnson, did anything to block the Beddington incinerator being built, to contribute to worsening levels of air pollution for decades to come.
“And if Brake is so keen on cutting the use of red diesel and reducing air pollution, why has he supported the Viridor incinerator?”
Brake never bothers to answer such questions. So gutless as well as pointless and clueless.
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