Croydon could soon be going into battle with neighbouring council Sutton, as some of the heftier consequences of building a vast waste incinerator on the borough boundary finally begin to dawn on the people who are supposedly in charge of our Town Halls.
LibDem-controlled Sutton wants to impose a traffic restriction for Beddington Lane and Hilliers Lane which potentially will daily re-route thousands of heavy goods lorries, and their polluting emissions, up and down the Purley Way, through Croydon’s Waddon and Broad Green wards.
Sutton’s plan has been branded as “selfish and shameful”.
Croydon councillors have written to Heidi Alexander, London’s deputy mayor for transport, to seek her help in the simmering inter-borough dispute. They say that, “Congestion and pollution on these roads is already at unacceptably high levels.”
With Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ – ultra-low emissions zone – not reaching this far south, there’s genuine concerns that air quality in this part of the city could soon be worse than anywhere else in the capital.
There’s even a suggestion that some want Croydon to retaliate by passing their own traffic restrictions on roads close to the borough boundary that are liable to be worst affected by the increased volume of trucks. In effect, they want to create a road block against vehicles heavier than 7.5tonnes, to stop Sutton diverting HGVs into Croydon.
The Beddington incinerator has been built at a cost to the public of £210million, for Viridor to service a 25-year contract worth £1billion with the South London Waste Partnership of four councils: Sutton, Croydon, Merton and Kingston. With a capacity to burn 300,000 tons of rubbish annually, thousands of lorries will be taking waste to the incinerator for burning, and then carrying away the ash by-product, day and night, all year-round.
Sutton Council’s weight restriction order is accompanied by a map with Dad’s Army-style arrows all over it, which clearly illustrates their firm intention to push their growing traffic problem into Croydon.
Sutton’s scheme is understood to be in response to energetic campaigning by residents in Beddington Village, whose leaders include an employee of Croydon Council whose day job involves… trying to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians in this borough.
One of the councillors of the wards likely to be worst affected is Stuart Collins, who is also Labour-run Croydon’s cabinet member for fly-tipping, missed bin collections and incineration. It is understood that Collins and his Broad Green councillor colleagues have not lodged any objections to their ward being used as an HGV diversion by Sutton.
But last month, Joy Prince, Robert Canning and Andrew Pelling, the three councillors for Waddon, which is also affected by Sutton’s proposed weight restriction traffic order, wrote to object.
“The proposed Order would prohibit vehicles exceeding 7.5 tonnes from travelling along Beddington Lane and Hilliers Lane so as ‘to improve the environment in terms of road safety and air quality for both pedestrians and cyclists’,” the councillors wrote.
“However, it is clear to us that the key reason for proposing this Order at the current time is to avoid HGVs that will be taking waste to the Beddington Lane incinerator, and then returning empty, from travelling through Beddington Village.
“The effect of making this Order, as shown on the map that accompanies the consultation, would be that hundreds of HGVs travelling to and from the incinerator each day would instead be required to undertake longer journeys using roads in Waddon and the north of Croydon. The Order would also result in other HGVs that currently travel along Beddington Lane and Hilliers Lane to the industrial sites and warehouses off Beddington Lane being routed via roads in Croydon.
“This would substantially increase traffic congestion and air pollution on these Croydon roads, particularly along Purley Way, and also make them much more dangerous for cyclists. Congestion and pollution on these roads is already at unacceptably high levels.
“What’s more, there will be additional vehicle emissions if lorries do not take the most direct route to their destinations.
“Transport for London’s proposal to transform the Fiveways area in Waddon is expected to start in 2021. This will see a sharp increase in congestion at this location and along Purley Way more generally during the construction phase.
“It is therefore the worst possible time for Sutton Council to be seeking to make this Order as prohibiting HGVs from Hilliers Lane and Beddington Lane would remove a viable route for HGV traffic – both to the incinerator and to the warehouses off Beddington Lane – during the Fiveways improvement work.
“It was Sutton Council that granted planning permission for the Beddington Lane incinerator. It is therefore selfish and shameful that Sutton Council now appears to be seeking to route HGVs travelling to and from the incinerator on to Croydon’s roads rather than take its fair share of HGVs travelling on the shortest route to the incinerator.
“We therefore ask Sutton Council to drop this proposal or rework it in a way that will not just displace HGV traffic on to Croydon’s roads.”
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