London will edge ever closer to burning 50 per cent of its waste when the Beddington Lane incinerator, operated by Viridor, fires up in anger next year.
That’s according to figures from London Assembly Member Caroline Russell, whose question to London Mayor Sadiq Khan elicited the response that it is against his policy for there to be more incineration in the capital.
Khan’s environmental strategy demands that by 2030, 65 per cent of all London’s municipal waste should be recycled.
Viridor will operate the Beddington Lane incinerator on behalf of the South London Waste Partnership, which comprises four councils, including two Labour-controlled boroughs, Merton and Croydon.
As Khan’s answer at Mayor’s questions indicates, and Russell highlights, the new incinerator is likely to reduce the recycling rates in Croydon.
Recycling in west London fell dramatically after several councils – Lambeth, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea – started to use the Belvedere waste incinerator in 2012. The incinerator generates energy but recyclable materials are also being burned.
In Wandsworth, recycling rates have fallen, from 26.7 per cent in 2010 to 21.9 per cent in 2016-2017, since becoming more reliant on incineration. In Kensington and Chelsea, recycling has fallen from 31.9 per cent to 25.7 per cent in the same period.
In his regular Q&A session at City Hall, Khan said he will talk to councils so “we don’t inadvertently reach a position that you referred to with Belvedere”, after being warned about the potential recycling rate drop off.
Khan also expressed his concerned about incinerators’ impact on air quality and global warming.
London currently incinerates 46 per cent of local authority collected waste. From next summer, the Beddington Lane incinerator will be burning an additional 300,000 tons per year.
The Mayor’s draft London Environment Strategy has a target of “an overall 65 per cent municipal waste recycling rate (by weight) by 2030 in London” and an interim target of “waste authorities to collectively achieve a 50 per cent LACW [local authority collected waste] recycling target by 2025”.
Russell, the London-wide Green Party Assembly Member, said: “As record levels of household waste are being burned, it’s no surprise that London is only managing to recycle an average of 33 per cent. That’s a pathetic amount when the Mayor’s draft environment strategy says that 70 per cent of our waste is recyclable.
“Every council should be aware of the risks of using these incinerators and keep a close eye on what is happening to their waste to keep in line with recycling targets in the Mayor’s Environment Strategy.”
Until 2014, Croydon’s Labour group said they opposed the SLWP incinerator contract with Viridor.
On being elected to run the council in May 2014, and before construction began on the incinerator, Labour opted not to withdraw from the 25-year, £1billion incinerator deal with Viridor.
In briefings to senior Labour councillors, council officials – including several senior figures who had steered Croydon into the incinerator deal under the Tories – claimed that penalty clauses in the contract would be too costly. Instead, Croydon Council Tax-payers will now be paying Viridor at least £10million per year for the next quarter of a century for the privilege of burning our rubbish.
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