Claims made in an official consultation that power supplied from an ‘energy-from-waste’ plant is ‘clean’ are ‘patently untrue’, according to a letter from Waddon’s elected representatives
Three councillors have written a stinging criticism of a council-run “consultation”, saying that they were “shocked and appalled” by plans to link new housing along the Purley Way to energy supplied from the polluting Beddington incinerator.
A claim made in the council’s consultation on the future of the Purley Way that burning rubbish to produce energy “rises to the challenge of climate change” is, according to the councillors, “patently untrue and needs to be removed from the final version of the Masterplan if the Masterplan is to have any credibility with local residents”.
What makes the criticism of the Labour-controlled council’s consultation all the more stinging is that it has been made in a submission from three Labour councillors – Waddon’s Robert Canning, Andrew Pelling and Joy Prince.
The councillors’ letter will go some way to confirming what environmental campaigners have long suggested about Croydon Labour’s true level of commitment to dealing with the global climate crisis – while paying Viridor £10million per year to burn rubbish at its polluting incinerator.
The council’s Purley Way consultation closed yesterday. The Waddon councillors question why it needed to be held now at all – in the middle of the latest covid-19 lockdown. Much of the area covered by the consultation is in Waddon ward, yet Canning, Pelling and Prince claim that few of their residents ever knew about the consultation (although that is usually just the way that the council’s planners prefer it).
As Inside Croydon highlighted last month when the consultation was launched, the geniuses at the council even included a line in which they asked residents who are unable to access its online consultation to… send them an email.
“We are concerned that many Waddon residents appear to be unaware of this consultation and have not had the opportunity to engage fully on the proposals because of covid, particularly those residents who are not online,” the councillors’ letter states.
“With the Masterplan looking 20 years ahead (ie. its preparation is not time-critical), we would have preferred this consultation to have been delayed until such time that residents could have been engaged fully through, for example, face-to-face drop-in events and public meetings as was the case when the Old Town Masterplan was prepared.”
The consultation is the work of the council’s “Place” department, the same brains trust that in recent times have brought you such nine-bob disasters as Brick by Brick, Binmageddon and the Fairfield Halls refurbishment. So what possibly could go wrong..?
The consultation’s Purley Way area affects three wards: Purley Oaks and Riddlesdown, Waddon and Broad Green. It is a continuation of a preliminary exercise carried out last year.
Under this consultation, the home-building target for the Purley Way is now 7,500 units, plus 40,000 square metres of new public open space, the equivalent to less than the size of eight football pitches.
The councillors stated that they “support the Masterplan in principle” and welcome “proposals to create four new centres, build new homes to help tackle the housing shortage, create new commercial and employment opportunities and provide additional public open space”.
But they also list a series of important reservations with the Masterplan, its flaws and shortcomings.
“Purley Way has some of the worst traffic congestion and air quality in London,” they state, “… We also agree that Fiveways Junction must be improved as part of overhauling the road environment.”
They then point out that after several years’ painstaking planning work, Transport for London already has a plan for the busy junction, but just lacks the money to implement it.
“We would like the Masterplan to … explicitly state that development of the magnitude proposed in it will not take place unless or until TfL’s Fiveways transformation scheme is implemented. This scheme has already been worked up in considerable detail following extensive public consultation,” say the councillors, who have also called for improvements in the area’s public transport provision.
But it is in their take-down of the claims about using energy from the Viridor-operated incinerator that Canning, Pelling and Prince are most scathing. They also are so bold as to call an incinerator an incinerator.
“We were shocked and appalled that the vision statement says that the Masterplan area ‘rises to the challenge of climate change by connecting with the Beddington Energy Recovery Facility’,” the councillors say.
“This claim is patently untrue and needs to be removed from the final version of the Masterplan if the Masterplan is to have any credibility with local residents. Recently the Environment Agency found that, according to Viridor’s own data, this ERF (or incinerator as it is better known to Waddon residents) produced 236,396 tonnes of CO2 in 2019.
“Furthermore, the pollution and carbon emissions from hundreds of additional HGVs a week travelling to and from this ERF along Purley Way is completely at odds with rising to the challenge of tackling climate change and the vision of transforming Purley Way from a hostile road into a green city street, especially with the danger that HGVs pose to cyclists.”
The councillors also criticise the council’s apparent desire to plonk a series of 12- to 15-storey blocks of flats along the A23. “It does look to us like these numbers have been plucked out of thin air,” say the councillors.
Commenting on the planners’ suggestion that suggested tower block sizes are merely “indicative”, the councillors warn that “this approach will be interpreted by developers as giving them the green light to push these limits and bring forward plans for excessively tall buildings in some parts of our ward”.
The councillors’ criticisms raise several serious questions about the quality of the work presented in the consultation’s documents. The consultation was paid for through grants from the Mayor of London, and involved hiring at least seven different firms of consultants.
The councillors state that the text of the consultation report is “particularly unconvincing”.
They say, “The claim that Waddon Station and Fiveways Junction are interdependent is nonsense and the claim that taller buildings will be used to join both points to aid overall navigation around the area is laughable when a simple street sign could achieve the same outcome.
“This text just seems to be a very poor attempt to justify 12-storey tower blocks in this part of Waddon.”
Read more: London’s toxic air is ‘a public health emergency’ says charity
Read more: Incinerator is ‘as polluting as coal-fired power stations’
Read more: Senior LibDem dined with Viridor days before incinerator vote
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