Campaigners consider legal action to fight incinerator

Campaign group considers Judicial Review to fight plan for waste incinerator in South London, which t says will impact on air quality

Campaigners are considering legal action after proposals for a waste incinerator in South London — which they claim will impact on local air quality — were given the green light by the deputy London Mayor yesterday (August 21).

Sutton council granted waste management firm Viridor planning permission for the £200 million facility in May 2013, which is to be built at Beddington Lane and is within an existing Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).

An artist's impression of Viridor's proposed EfW facility at Beddington Lane, Sutton

An artist’s impression of Viridor’s proposed EfW facility at Beddington Lane, Sutton

But, as the proposed development is also on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) — which has similar planning requirements to green belt land — the deputy London Mayor was given the final decision on the plant, which he granted planning permission yesterday.

The Beddington Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) forms part of Viridor’s £990 million contract signed in November 2012 with the South London Waste Partnership — made up of the London borough councils Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton — to treat around 200,000 of waste per year over a 25-year period.

However, campaign group Stop the Incinerator is now considering a number of legal options as well as direct action in order to fight the incinerator, which it claims is unnecessary and will further add to poor air quality in the area.

Speaking to, Paul Pickering, chairman of Stop the Incinerator campaign group, said: “They are building it in an area that is already monitored for poor air quality and Sutton council have stated that the plant will increase nitrogen dioxide by five grams per second — 80 tonnes per year — as a result of the incinerator.”

He also said that the development would bring an extra 700 lorries each day to and from the plant, further adding to poor air quality that would impact on the health of residents and 1,500 pupils at the nearby Archbishop Lanfranc secondary school.

London Assembly member Jenny Jones has also backed Stop the Incinerator’s stance on the issue, describing the deputy Mayor’s decision as an “environmental disaster for South London”.

She said: “The Mayor has failed to observe his own planning and waste policies which state that incineration is the least desirable form of waste management. Instead he has put the interests of big business first, before legitimate environmental concerns and the interests of local residents that will be affected by his decision.”

Further action

Mr Pickering said members of the campaign group would be meeting this weekend to discuss the options for possible further action — including the launch of a Judicial Review application — before a meeting with their solicitors on Tuesday (August 27).

He said: “The trouble is that it could cost up to £40,000 to take the case to court, so we need to look at how we might raise these funds. Crowd funding is an option — the solicitors themselves have suggested this.

“Various forms of direct action need to be considered as well, but it is early days for that sort of thing. We have three months to decide on whether to launch a Judicial Review application.”

Deputy Mayor’s report

In his report allowing planning permission for the facility yesterday, deputy London Mayor Edward Lister acknowledged that there would be negative air quality impacts from the incinerator, but describes them as ‘negligible’.

He adds that since the initial planning application, proposed chimneys have been increased by 10 metres in height and additional chemical treatment proposed in order to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions from the plant.

As a result, Sutton council concluded that the plant would increase nitrogen dioxide levels by no more than 0.8% above current levels. This, the report states, ‘would not give rise to any adverse health impacts’.

Viridor, which is developing the plant, welcomed the deputy Mayor’s decision and pointed out that the facility has been granted an environmental permit by the Environment Agency.

Ian John, head of planning and permitting at Viridor, said: “We commissioned thorough and rigorous assessments about any potential impact associated with our facility which were then robustly and stringently tested by the Agency’s officers. We welcome their decision to issue a permit for the safe operation of our proposed Energy Recovery Facility.”

“Operating to the highest national and international standards, the facility will deliver real environmental, economic, social and community benefits.”


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