Labour councillors ‘shocked and appalled’ at incinerator link

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

Croydon Council has tried to claim that the Beddington incinerator is a source of ‘clean’ energy

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 – with no opportunity for thousands of residents to take part

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.”

Waddon’s (from left) Joy Prince, Robert Canning and Andrew Pelling have challenged the council’s Purley Way consultation

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.”

The A23 Purley Way has some of the worst traffic congestion and air pollution in the whole of London

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 area of the Purley Way consultation runs from the edge of Thornton Heath as far south as Purley

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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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Andrew Pelling, Broad Green, Croydon Council, Joy Prince, Planning, Purley Oaks and Riddlesdown, Purley Way, Robert Canning, TfL, Transport, Waddon and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Labour councillors ‘shocked and appalled’ at incinerator link

  1. Grace Onions says:

    Thank you SO MUCH, Waddon Councillors. I attended the ‘consultation’ and queried 5-ways, as I had sent considerable feedback on that consultation several years ago as I live fairly close to it and use it a fair bit. The response was very flakey – I can’t remember the exact words but along the lines of ‘nothing more is happening with that’.

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    Amazing but at least the Waddon Councillors actually made a noise. So there we have three Councillors that actually stand up for residents – What about our three Broad Green ”Ghosts” ? Is it a case of see nothing, hear nothing, speak nothing publicly? Or is is that one of them was involved in promoting the Binmageddon and the Digital age of non communication? It would be good to find out how many from each ward actually participated in this ”unknown” consulatation if you could even call it that.

  3. jimvangogh says:

    With an incinerator that produces the same CO2 emissions as 200,000 cars a year it’s outrageous to even suggest linking up to this will be in any way Green!

  4. Lewis White says:

    The connection of domestic developments to centralised energy sources like “District Heating” in the UK seems to be an unhappy saga.

    Inflexibiity —- heating pipes that extend through one person’s flat , cooking the inhbaitants, on route to another where the residents freeze– not to mention the high costs– see Inside Croydon’s coverage of a development at Hackbridge.

    It seems to me that there is an analogy between main frame computers and p.c.’s.
    People need their own p.c., not a share in a leviathan network.

    Respect and thanks is due to the Waddon Councillors for making this importnat stand.

    We need to get rid of the incinerator within the next 20 years, or all these new residential blocks will be poking up direct into the noxious smoke and invisible chemicals chucked out by the chimney of the incinerator. At the same level as the chimney. Is that good Planning ???

    It is not just a matter of CO2 , importnat as that is.

    It is the smell of burning plastic, and the lung-damaging mix of cemical compounds, many of which do not occur in nature, that damage the lungs.

    Fresh air should be a right for us all. This really is so wrong.

    Planners and Councillors should be working NOW to get the incinerator out of SW London.
    Attention should be given to generating clean energy by fitting every new and many existing industrial units in the area with solar panels.

    If rubbish needs to be burned, after recycling of as much as possible, ship it out at low cost by rail to the Trent Valley . Don’t force thousands of Croydon residents breathe in the toxic smoke of Beddington.

    With regard to the “Consultation” on the 150 page document, which ended yesterday, after losing my online response because of the lack of a “Save your response and return to finish it later” button, a key defect of the consultation, I managed to get my response in by email.

    As highlghted in the article, to have this consultation during the Covid lockdown is really not fair.

    The proposals seem to have many good points, particularly (in my opinion) the creation of a Wandle side park, but I would have thought that real local meetings would be the right way of allowing residents of the area to meet the planning team, and question them. Zoom is great, but real exhibitions–PROPERLY ADVERTISED — with display boards are key to the democracy of how the UK planning process should be.

    To expect people to peer on their laptops and scroll through 150 pages, and look at plans that are either of banal design or are very complex, and not labelled clearly is not realistic nor right.

    Setting aside the wisdom of having tower blocks, the proposals will mix new residential with commerce and shopping. Great in theory to have “mixed neighbourhoods”, but real design expertise, and hard choices about juxtaposition of homes, industry shops and commerce is needed if there is to be a happy result.

    How good will the designs be ? Who will want to live there? What will be done about the pollution of the Purley Way, Sewage works and Incinerator ?

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