BELLE MONT, our Sutton reporter, on how the council has opted to name the service road to the Beddington Lane incinerator after a bird species that has been almost wiped out locally, in part, at least, as a consequence of Viridor’s development of the site
There is dismay and disgust, in about equal measure, over Sutton Council’s choice of name for the access road through to the Viridor incinerator off Beddington Lane.
A number of loyalists to the LibDem one-party state in Sutton are still trying to pretend that burning 300,000 tons of rubbish every year will not cause serious air pollution and harm to the environment right across south London, potentially wrecking all of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s cleaner air targets.
Sources within Sutton Council suggested that they wanted to name the road in honour of local MP Tom Brake, who has done so much for the local environment, especially through EcoLocal, the charity of which he is a trustee and which so generously took The Lodge in Carshalton off the council’s hands at around £1million less than its true value.
Dombey has done that while ignoring all suggestions that the sometime chairman of her local party, John Drage, really ought to have declared his life-long friendship with Viridor chief Colin Drummond when he was a member of the South London Waste Partnership committee that handed the £1billion contract to Viridor.
The road will have to withstand thousands of HGV lorry trips each week, as they truck in rubbish from across south-east England for burning, and then take away the ash waste product.
Some in Sutton suggest that with a slight adjustment in the letters chosen, the name of the road could pay proper tribute to Brake, Dombey and their old mate Drage equally, as illustrated above.
Under their contract with the South London Waste Partnership – which is made up of Sutton, Croydon, Merton and Kingston – Viridor’s incinerator was meant to be fully operational in 2018.
But then, under other agreements signed by Viridor, they were meant to enhance parts of the Beddington Farmlands site, improving the wildlife habitat on the Metropolitan Open Land that they have used for their multi-million-pound business. But they haven’t fulfilled their promises on that, either. And Sutton has refused to conduct any enforcement action, despite orders from the Local Government Ombudsman.
Instead, there’s been a notable decline in bird species numbers on what was supposed to have become one of the capital’s largest country parks, providing new, green “lungs” to help clean up London’s polluted air.
Sutton Council, who have spent years calling the Viridor plant an “ERF” as they pretend that what they have helped to build in Beddington is not an incineration factory, are clearly still in denial. Because the council has decided to call the road leading to the Viridor incinerator “Corn Bunting Lane”, in a pathetic effort to create some image of a bucolic Shangri La in Beddington.
In an email sent on January 10 from a “data management officer” in the “street naming and numbering” section at Sutton’s Civic Offices, it was written that “Corn Bunting Lane” was the suggestion of the freeholder – which suggests it is the not-so-bright idea of Viridor themselves.
The risible decision was reached without any consultation with the councillors for Beddington North ward, where the new road is located.
One of those councillors is Nick Mattey, who was kicked out of the Liberal Democrats after whistleblowing on the £275,000 “gift” made by Viridor’s charity arm to a church hall used by Brake and the LibDems in Wallington for meetings and campaigning.
Today, Mattey, who despite the LibDems’ worst efforts was still re-elected last May as an independent councillor, told Inside Sutton, “The idea that this road should be called Corn Bunting Lane with its rural connotations is absurd.
“The glaring light pollution from the Viridor Incinerator should convince anyone even at night that they are not in the countryside on a country lane but rather in the vicinity of Sutton’s biggest single source of PM2.5 and NOX pollutants.”
Mattey has noticed that in the past month, there’s even been further wildlife habitat destruction on the approach road to the incinerator, as more trees have been hacked down, presumably to make the approach route to the incinerator easier for HGVs laden with rubbish. It certainly won’t provide any additional nesting sites for the ever-rarer corn bunting.
But Peter Alfrey, a locally based conservationist, suggests that, as a memorial to the bird life being marginalised by the Viridor development and its resultant pollution, “Corn Bunting Lane” might be bitterly appropriate.
“The corn bunting population has crashed at Beddington Farmlands and across the UK due to over-development and intensive farming,” Alfrey said.
“The corn bunting has become a symbol of ecological disaster, so I guess it’s an appropriate choice of name for this service road.
“The greatest loss in the Farmlands area is the 10 acres of nationally important wetland that has been de-designated from MOL and is now due to be developed by Prologis.
“They have put forward an off-setting plan by developing new habitat nearby. But we all know how seriously mitigation measures are taken and enforced by Sutton, so it is probably just more nonsense.”
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