Three Croydon councillors want to stage a talking shop about how to deal with air pollution – just days after the council-commissioned Beddington incinerator begins to pump out pollutants over south London. Our environment correspondent, PAUL LUSHION, reports
In the same week that the Beddington Lane incinerator is due to fire up in earnest for the first time courtesy of Viridor, as commissioned by Croydon Council, some of our councillors are staging a free event to discuss how to… reduce air pollution.
The councillors describe the borough’s air pollution as a “public health crisis”.
Yet they fail to address the local authority’s own noxious contribution to that crisis.
Labour councillors Muhammad Ali, Jamie Audsley and cabinet member Stuart King will be staging their event, on October 20, at Whitehorse Manor School on Brigstock Road. Downwind of the Viridor incinerator on a bad day…
King is the council cabinet member who has introduced car-free zones around a handful of the borough’s primary schools, and who wants to roll out the policy elsewhere, provided the schools and parents request the vehicle exclusion areas.
He is the cabinet member for the environment in a borough where a primary school has been built, at great public expense, with hermetically sealed classrooms because the school is beside the smog-ridden Purley Way – all thanks to a council officer’s environmental report that suggested, seriously, that there was no issue with air pollution with a site beside the four-lane A23.
In announcing their meeting, the councillors say, “There’s been lots in the news about the damaging impact of air pollution on our communities and especially our children’s lives. But what’s really going on in Croydon? What are the facts? What are the sollutions? [sic] What role can poltiicans [sic] and residents play in tackling this public health crisis?”
The councillors’ Eventbrite booking page for their good intentions event never once mentions the Beddington Lane incinerator, which Croydon residents are paying for.
The incinerator, operated by Viridor, is due to begin full operation on October 16. It will be the start of at least 25 years of burning millions of tons of rubbish from four London boroughs, including Croydon, much of it trucked in from across south-east England (with all the associated vehicle emissions from thousandsof HGV journeys, too).
According to official figures, the Viridor incinerator at Beddington will push out into the local atmosphere 440 tonnes per year of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and 3,300 tonnes of nitrous oxide emissions.
The shocking findings of research published this month has found particulate pollution in the pacentas of pregnant mothers who live in areas affected by incinerators.
And other surveys show that waste incinerators regularly operate in breach of the air quality legal limits, with the government’s toothless watchdog, the Environment Agency, standing by and taking little or no action. Incinerator operators, such as Viridor, are allowed to conduct their own monitoring of their plants’ emissions.
Croydon has all this to come.
Meanwhile, the air that we breathe is already badly polluted, to the extent it may be damaging to people’s health, just through vehicle emissions.
At one school, for four- to 11-year-olds which opened just this month on a site next to the Croydon Flyover, the council has contingency plans which include teaching staff keeping children inside the building on days of particularly bad air quality.
The councillors ask residents to come along to their event to ” shape the way forward for tackling air pollution in Croydon”.
And they add, “If you think you have a particular view that needs to be shared at the event, please let email@example.com know so we can ensure it is built in.”
“Built in”. Like the incinerator.
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