Incinerator protestors accuse Viridor of lies over toxic pollution

With just days to go before the Environment Agency closes its latest consultation over whether to allow Viridor to increase their profits by upping the amount of toxic pollution that they pump into the atmosphere of south London, a large demonstration was staged outside the controversial Beddington Lane plant yesterday.

As Inside Croydon reported last week, the Viridor incinerator has broken its licence requirements more than 40 times in the past couple of years, and new data from the Office for National Statistics shows that in some wards in northern Croydon, downwind from Beddington, infant mortality rates increased by 233% after the first year of operation.

The South London Waste Partnership, the unaccountable local council quango which built the plant for Viridor and which has a £1billion contract to burn the rubbish from four boroughs at the incinerator over 25 years, is among hundreds who have objected to the licence variation application. As are the four councils which make up SLWP – Kingston, Merton, Sutton and Croydon.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and constituency MP Elliot Colburn are also among the objectors. Yet before the consultation even began, the EA stated that it was “minded” to permit the 10% increase in the amount to be burned at the Beddington incinerator – allowing Viridor to make even bigger profits at the expense of the health of generations of south Londoners.

Yesterday’s sweltering temperatures were accompanied by poor air quality warnings – two things that the protestors outside the claim are being made even worse by the incinerator.

Air control: some of the protestors outside the Beddington plant yesterday

Jim Duffy, of the Stop the South London Incinerator campaign who organised this protest, said, “The pollution from the incinerator already seems to be affecting the health of our community.

“The Government’s own data shows that infant mortality in Croydon rose sharply after the incinerator fired up. It would therefore be criminal of the Environment Agency to permit the latest plan to increase incineration.

“I have written to our local MP, Elliot Colburn, voicing my concern about the Government’s ‘Growth Duty’, which ties the hands of the Environment Agency and requires them to support the economic growth of industries they regulate even if this conflicts with protecting the environment.” The Environment Agency gave this growth duty as a reason for the last increase in incineration in 2020.

Elliot Colburn, the Conservative MP for Carshalton and Wallington, had said he would join yesterday’s demonstration, but in the event he was a no-show.

The protesters were, though, joined by members of the Labour and Green parties.

Sutton councillor Dave Tchil (Labour) said, “Burning more in Sutton is a disaster for the environment and makes a mockery of tackling recycling, emissions and climate change.

“We can have a green economy, we don’t need more incineration capacity for that.”

Deadly countdown: Viridor’s management is so mindful of their appalling record for pollution breaches at Beddington, they now pat themselves on the back with a counter of how many days it has been since they last broke the terms of their current  licence

Peter Underwood, Green Party candidate for Croydon and Sutton at next May’s London elections, said, “The plan to burn even more in the incinerator isn’t about helping us deal with waste, it’s just about increasing profits for the owners. For the sake of our health, our economy, and our environment we need to be reducing the amount we burn, not increasing it.”

Local resident Verity Thompson was also furious with the owners of the incinerator. She had recently attended a presentation and found them to be less than honest. “There was no mention of the carbon emissions from the burning of waste that the plant produces,” Thompson said.

“There was only reference to ‘steam’ coming out of the stacks; this was carefully worded as the only ‘visible’ gases. It was only clarified upon questioning that other gases were released.

“Emphasis was also put on the carefully monitored and controlled emissions and the plant being extremely safe, but the regular emissions breaches were not mentioned until raised by myself.

“I said that waste incineration does not fit with a carbon net zero goal, or a zero waste strategy. Their response was that they don’t expect any reduction in the amount of waste people produce any time soon, so they will just keep on burning.”

There is still time for the public to make their representations to the EA in their consultation over the application to burn more rubbish at the Beddington plant, with the closing date now this Friday, September 15.

Read more: Infant death rates were up by 233% after incinerator fired up
Read more: Viridor’s charge sheet: incinerator operator’s eco-vandalism
Read more: Viridor incinerator breaks its toxic VOC permit for 40th time

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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
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1 Response to Incinerator protestors accuse Viridor of lies over toxic pollution

  1. Jim Duffy says:

    Many thanks inside Croydon. A powerful analysis of why there should be no increase in incineration or really no incineration at all. We got HUNDREDS of honks and shouts of support from passing motorists, showing that local people do not want this pollution. And they have the backing of the local councils, the Waste Partnership, all political parties and the local MP.

    Incredibly the Environment Agency seems committed to allowing the increase to go ahead. Therefore this could only be due to pressure from the government in the form of its ‘Growth Duty’ regulation. This requires regulators to support the economic development of industries they regulate such as Viridor.

    Viridor can only grow if they burn more waste which is not necessary and completely contradicts the aims of the Environment Agency.

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