Thanks to Brexit, MEPs are now an endangered species. Tomorrow morning one of them, Jean Lambert, London’s Green Party representative to the European Parliament, will be visiting the River Wandle in Beddington to highlight the plight of local wildlife and conservation schemes which have been recklessly put at risk by local authorities and big business.
Lambert won’t have to go far to find some serious examples of wanton destruction and pollution for profit:
The dirty waste incinerator: Beddington Farmlands has the potential to become a world-renowned wetlands centre. However, the construction of the controversial Viridor waste incinerator on the Farmlands has already caused 10 acres of land to be stripped of its Green Belt status and handed to industry for development. It’s now likely that this land-grab will extend further into the nature reserve as developers consider the space ripe for development.
A badly planned hot water pipeline: The construction of a pipeline by the local council-owned Sutton Decentralised Energy Network (SDEN), to be connected to the Felnex housing estate in Hackbridge has been described as a “White Elephant”, as it has been built purely to provide a financial justification for the existence of the incinerator.
The heating system will tie Felnex residents into expensive energy bills, while the pipeline has already led to the destruction of more than 160 trees in the nature reserve. The trees were felled during bird nesting season – a potential criminal office – before planning permission was granted, and before a clear decision on the route of the pipeline had been made.
Destruction of a rich bank-side habitat: House-builders Redrow (those nice people who have left the Bridge to Nowhere dangling for six years next to East Croydon Station) has destroyed more than 50 metres of bank-side habitat on its Millfields development alongside the River Wandle in Hackbridge. The area provided a rich habitat for kingfishers and trout. Despite objections from the Wandle Trust, Sutton Council and the Environment Agency, Redrow is appealing the refused planning application to the Secretary of State.
“It’s a disgrace that the LibDem-dominated council has stood by and allowed profiteering companies to destroy large parts of this area’s rich ecosystem,” Lambert said.
“It’s clear they have no regard for the local environment or for our health. If elected, Green councillors will campaign tirelessly for improved protections that will safeguard the Wandle Valley and the well-being of those who live in and around it. We must act now to ensure that this area’s beautiful, diverse natural habitats can continue to be enjoyed by local people and future generations.”
Peter Alfrey, the local ornithologist who is standing as a Green Party candidate in Wandle Valley ward in the local elections, has pledged that if elected, his £10,000 per year councillor wages will be go to green space improvements. Today, he said, “Woodland edge habitat that was planted up at great expense 15 years ago and had developed into a rich green corridor for wildlife, has now been destroyed by the pipeline routes and will take decades to re-establish.
“This was one of the few examples of successful restoration at Beddington Farmlands and elsewhere across the nature reserve. Viridor continue to delay restoration causing an overall serious decline in the condition of the Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.
“Viridor and other companies in the area are showing disregard for protected habitats and planning conditions and are causing extensive and in some cases irreversible damage to the coreland of the Wandle Valley Regional Park and they need to be held to account.”
Lambert, Alfrey and other local election candidates and campaigners will be staging their walkabout from 11am at the entrance to Beddington Park on London Road, SM6 7EA (near Hackbridge Station) to visit Beddington Farmlands, then at 12.30pm they will be assembling at the bridge over the River Wandle on Goat Road.
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