Sutton’s 40-page emissions report fails to mention incinerator

Our environment correspondent, PAUL LUSHION, on the most ridiculous claims made yet by the Liberal Democrat-controlled council

Gorilla in the room: the scene in a Sutton environment committee meeting tonight. Possibly

There is a meeting tonight in Sutton of the council’s environment and sustainable transport committee.

And, along with Ruth Dombey, the LibDem-controlled council leader, Helen Bailey, the council chief exec, Barry “Biggles” Lewis, the committee chair, plus nine other councillors and around a dozen assorted council staffers, there will be an 800lb gorilla.

The gorilla in the room whenever Sutton’s LibDems gather to discuss environmental matters is the Beddington incinerator, a building more than twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral, with 95-metre tall twin chimneys which belch out on average 827 tonnes of CO2 into south London’s increasingly fetid and unhealthy atmosphere. Daily.

On the agenda tonight is a 7,200-word report about air quality in Sutton.

Extraordinarily, nowhere in those pages and pages of verbiage is a single mention of the polluting incinerator.

The “Environment Strategy and Climate Emergency Response Plan Annual Progress and Update”, to give it its full, less-than-snappy, title, amounts to nothing more than a 40-page exercise in greenwashing.

The Viridor incinerator: Sutton’s LibDems want to pretend it does not exist

If it wasn’t for the fact that taking all the printed copies of the “Environment Strategy and Climate Emergency Response Plan Annual Progress and Update” and burning them in the furnaces of the Beddington incinerator would contribute further to global warming, then it’s likely that that is what someone would be recommending should be done with it. Because that’s all that the report is good for.

The author of the report is council official Katarina Lloyd. Lloyd has failed to mention that the borough’s biggest source of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is the Viridor-operated incinerator. Some council sources suggest that this startling omission from the report is because Lloyd was acting under orders, either from her boss Bailey or the council leader, Dombey.

It is established fact that Bailey is aware of the incinerator’s existence because, as Inside Sutton has reported, she’s even visited the vast industrial complex.

Most scientists agree that man-made greenhouse gas emissions, much like those pumped out by the incinerator at Beddington, prevent excess heat from the sun from being radiated out into space, with the planet gradually warming to crisis levels as a consequence.

Therefore, it really is incumbent upon any local authority that wishes to tackle climate change to identify the borough’s main sources of carbon dioxide and other noxious pollutants. Including Sutton.

At risk of mixing the African wildlife metaphors here, Sutton under Dombey and more recently Bailey has been sticking its head in the sand over the incinerator for the last decade.

Ignorance is bliss: Helen Bailey (left) and council leader Ruth Dombey won’t allow mention of the incinerator

In the mountain of self-congratulatory paperwork provided ahead of tonight’s meeting, Sutton is claiming that since 2007, borough-wide CO2 emissions have fallen, from 897,000 tonnes a year to 559,000 tonnes a year, a 39per cent reduction.

Unfortunately for Sutton’s efforts at greenwashing deception, Viridor has fitted equipment that measures its incinerator’s CO2 emissions and supplies the data to the Environment Agency.

A Freedom of Information request to the EA has revealed that the CO2 emissions from the Beddington incinerator for 2019, 2020 and 2021 was 263,000 tonnes, 302,000 tonnes, and 307,000 tonnes.

Yet the council report states that in 2020 total CO2 emissions in Sutton were 559,000 tonnes. However, when you add in the Viridor incinerator figures, it is clear that Sutton’s emissions were in fact 861,000 tonnes in 2020.

By 2023, thanks to Viridor, Sutton’s CO2 emissions will be greater than they were in 2007.

This is not mentioned in the council’s report.

Up in a puff of smoke: the incinerator emission figures, according to the Environment Agency

In fact, if Viridor get their way and are permitted by the EA to burn even more rubbish, they could soon be pumping out 960 tonnes of CO2 every day.

There’s a global climate crisis, and it is being made worse here on our own doorstep by the Liberal Democrats on Sutton Council and the council officials.

Indeed, the issue of deliberate under-reporting of CO2 emissions is deemed so serious that Elliot Colburn, the Conservative MP for Carshalton and Wallington, is to raise the matter in the House of Commons.

There might be no need for Colburn to do that if the LibDem councillors who form the majority group on the environment and sustainable transport committee decide to address the gorilla in the room tonight and refuse to endorse the report.

Nick Mattey, an independent councillor and long-time campaigner against the incinerator, told Inside Sutton, “Will the Liberal Democrats on the committee tonight all try to pretend that there is no Viridor incinerator?

“The climate emergency is too serious a matter to try to pretend it is not happening – and we won’t ever get to grips with pollution and noxious air quality until we start to address what’s causing it, and that includes recognising the biggest source of CO2 emissions in the borough.”

Read more: Viridor turns polluting Beddington incinerator into a sick joke
Read more: Incinerator breaks its toxic VOC permit for 40th time
Read more: Client councils are failing to hold polluting Viridor in check
Read more: Councillor says big-money deals for medical and radioactive waste are at centre of Viridor’s diesel tank planning application


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2 Responses to Sutton’s 40-page emissions report fails to mention incinerator

  1. Peter Underwood says:

    People are fed up with politicians not being honest. The Lib Dems ignoring the incinerator that they built when calculating pollution is a blatant lie and shows they are no better than the Conservatives.
    Air pollution is killing people in Sutton every week and climate change is a threat to all of us. We need honesty about the problem and honesty about the solutions – not more fiddling the figures and greenwashing.
    As I’ve said many times before, if you really want green then you have to vote Green.

  2. Lewis White says:

    For Sutton, the incinerator is on the “other side of the tracks”–to the East (the Croydon side) of the main Sutton to London railway tracks.

    Almost, “out of sight, out of mind”.

    As it is well to the NE of the heartland areas of S Sutton and Cheam, the good folk of those mainly leafy and pleasant areas hardly ever get a whiff of the pollution, as the wind nornally blows its foul air load towatrds the East ( Central Croydon) and North east–over West Croydon, Norbury and Thornton Heath.

    The incinerator looms insignificant in the view from Sutton and most of Merton and Kingston–a picturesque landscape feature.

    I am sure that if the toxic plume were breathed in by everyone of us in the 4 boroughs of the SW London Waste partnership, the population would chuck out all the politicians of each borough, other than Nick Mattey.

    I blame Government–both local but, first and foremost, the UK Governments over the last 20 years for not banning new incinerators, nor phased removal of existing incinerators located within London, and not being pro-active on finding alternatives to this form of disposal.

    Incineration might have a residual role of getting rid of nasty wastes, but surely, not close to settlements such as those within 5 miles of Beddington.

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