CROYDON COMMENTARY: After travelling past the Beddington Lane incinerator yesterday in the knowledge that the furnaces are about to be fired up for the first time, SHASHA KHAN, pictured right, who has been prominent in the campaign opposing the Viridor project for almost a decade, is more worried than ever
After first being consulted upon in 2008, with details hidden deep in a dodgy waste review, it has taken nearly 10 years for this incinerator to finally reach completion. During this time, the world has moved on.
Television programmes like Blue Planet have highlighted to a wider audience the need to move away from plastics. The days of single-use plastics – presently sent for incineration because it has no further use – are numbered as we move towards a circular economy, where waste becomes a resource and not a “feedstock” to burn in this incinerator.
Supporters of the Stop The Incinerator Campaign became aware of the levels of plastic in our oceans when we screened the movie, Trashed, in Fairfield Halls.
Similarly, supporters of our campaign who attended the screening were made aware of the harmful health effects of poor air quality, especially to mums-to-be.
This incinerator is out-dated technology even before it starts its 25 years of operation.
The South London Waste Partnership is the organisation of four south London boroughs – Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston – who commissioned the building of the incinerator with £200million of public money, to be operated for 25 years by Viridor on a contract worth £1billion, paid for by local tax-payers. SLWP hired a company, Eunomia Consulting, to compile a report which says that there will not be not enough residual waste generated by the four client boroughs to feed the incinerator beyond 2030 – less than halfway through its operational contract.
So what is Plan B? Will we, post-Brexit, be importing rubbish from the EU, and paying a hefty tariff? Or will we pay off the incinerator contractor Viridor?
The commissioning stage of an incinerator, before it is fully operational, is broken up into “cold” commissioning and “hot” commissioning. It will be hot commissioning that is undertaken in the next couple of weeks, when feedstock – rubbish – is sent for incineration for the first time. This is a more dangerous period, with all that combustible material near a burner, and a greater risk of fire.
I understand from UKWIN – the UK Without Incineration Network – that incinerator operators may have greater latitude in terms of environmental parameters when an incinerator is being tested. This is worrying in terms of air quality for people in south London.
- Shasha Khan is a leading member of the Stop The Incinerator Campaign, and led the High Court fight against the scheme, taking Sutton Cuncil and Viridor to the High Court, ultimately unsuccessfully
- Sutton CEO accused of trying to gag councillor over incinerator
- Tom Brake link to £275,000 church donation from incinerator company
- Infant death rates on the rise where incinerators operate
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