Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Facts about Waste Incineration

Economically Unsustainable

We have had a number of interesting issues raised by campaigners this week.  Firstly, Chris Sciberras has pointed out this fantastic video which explains why waste incineration is more costly economically and environmentally than other forms of waste treatment.

There is much talk that we need to move away from landfill because of the cost, but in fact waste companies often charge more to burn the rubbish than they do to bury it!

Also let’s not forget that Viridor can charge about 4 times more per tonne to burn the rubbish than they can to treat it through Anaerobic Digestion or Composting, both of which can also produce energy.

Not to mention properly sorting and recycling can produce 10 times more jobs than simply burning it.

Quite simply, if we focused on recycling and re-use there would be no need for a waste incinerator.

San Francisco is heading towards zero waste and Scotland plans to do the same.  In some parts of Wales recycling is up to 66%.

The best of the four boroughs involved in the South London Incinerator, Croydon, achieves about 47% recycling whilst the worst, Sutton, is going backwards and their recycling has dropped to 37%.

Environmentally Damaging

This week WHO announced that air pollution kills an estimated 7 million people a year.  It is a fact that the South London Waste Incinerator will increase pollution.

A local resident, Michael Ryan, has challenged Croydon Council’s claim that the incinerator will not harm our health with a detailed Freedom of Information request which can be found here.

We will keep you updated on how this goes.

It’s strange that when it comes to waste incineration the decision makers do not operate under the precautionary principle which is normally applied in these situations.

The burden of proof should be on the Councils and on Viridor to show that there will be no harm to human life, and yet this has been ignored in order to turn a profit.


Father sues Council in battle against incinerator in London’s newest country park

Lawyers for Croydon resident Shasha Khan have today served a formal letter on Sutton Council threatening to file a judicial review in the High Court unless the council withdraws planning permission for a multi-million pound incinerator. Sutton now has two weeks to respond to the legal arguments.

Mr. Khan’s solicitor Sue Willman, explained “We believe Sutton has acted unlawfully. They have failed to demonstrate the very special circumstances needed to build an incinerator on Metropolitan Open Land which is the London equivalent of Greenbelt. Mass burn incineration is an outdated and unsustainable technology and there are major questions about its effect on people’s health. This case is just one of many which local people are bringing across the UK to stop an army of waste incinerators being built when councils should be focused on cleaner renewable energy and recycling.”

Mr Khan said “I am taking the significant financial risk of taking legal action so that my little daughter can enjoy this green space as she grows up. We hope the thousands of Londoners who care about clean air and migrating birds and open space will support our legal case.”

He added: “This mass burn approach also puts off recycling efforts. Sutton should be forward thinking like Southwark who have just developed a modern and sustainable solution that separates out the contents of black bag waste for recycling and reuse of raw materials.”

Mr Khan is backed by legal team Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors and Justine Thornton, barrister of 39 Essex Street Chambers.

Shasha Khan is father of a 22 month old daughter, a founder and treasurer of the Friends of Thornton Heath Recreation Ground and co-coordinator of the local Green Party.

A copy of the letter can be seen here. For more information on the challenge see Mr Khan’s fundraising page here.

To see how it has been reported in the news:  Croydon Guardian, Croydon Advertiser, Evening Standard, Inside Croydon.


Former English Test Cricketer adds his voice to protests against waste incinerator plan


Following in the footsteps of JB from the group JLS, former English test cricketer Mark Butcher, another popular figure haling from Croydon, has voiced his concern about plans to build an incinerator on the border of Sutton and Croydon.

Mr Butcher said, “When I heard about the incinerator I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. It seems every week news reports indicate that London’s air quality is appalling, so it seems crazy that the authorities have approved an incinerator that affects the residents of my home town of Croydon. I wish Shasha Khan all the best in stopping the incinerator with his legal challenge” 

Sutton council formally approved the incinerator application on Friday 14th March leaving campaigners 6 weeks to file papers with the High Court.

Since his retirement as a player Mark has appeared as an expert summariser on various cricket programmes on TV and radio.

Commenting on the latest celebrity endorsement, Shasha Khan, the local resident behind the court challenge said, “I really appreciate Mark Butcher’s support.  I have now instructed Deighton Pierce Glynn my solicitors to go ahead and send Sutton Council the letter threatening court action as soon as possible. I remain confident that we can preserve the open land for my daughter and for future generations. I would urge everyone who agrees with me and hasn’t already signed my petition on the web site to do it now!”


Sutton Council has formally issued planning permission

Planning permission for the South London Incinerator was formally granted at the end of last week.

In a newspaper article about the incinerator plans, Councillor Jayne McCoy said, “We have been careful to make sure that we get the right deal for our residents. That is why we have spent nine months securing £2.3m for Beddington which will help us to improve the area alongside residents.”

This works out at less than £2.50 per person in the four waste partnership boroughs – hardly outstanding value for money for something that will rob us of our health.  If they really want to help us improve the area, then don’t build an incinerator that’s dangerous to the environment.

It’s difficult to understand what they’ve been doing for 9 months considering that both the amount and the details of the mitigation package had already been laid out prior to the final planning meeting in May 2013 .

Still, it’s good news that some of this mitigation package will go towards replacing the air quality monitoring equipment that ‘mysteriously disappeared’ from Beddington Lane back in April 2012. 

This is the same pesky monitoring equipment that showed why it’s an air quality management area in the first place and why pollution levels (in particular Nitrogen Dioxide) need to come down.

Personally I think it’s nice to see precisely what I’m being polluted by and so I was keen to know when we can expect the return of the air quality monitoring equipment. 

Viridor have offered £35,000 to replace it.  However (according to Sutton Council themselves) this equipment costs “about £10,000 per year to operate and the equipment installation can cost up to about £50,000 depending on type.”

In the nine months Sutton Council spent carefully making sure they got the right deal for residents, didn’t anyone think to mention £35,000 wasn’t going to cover it?

Even if they’ve got a spare one in a cupboard somewhere, £35k will only pay for three and a half years of operation. 

What better way to ensure pollution levels come down than by ignoring them altogether?

This is what’s been going on throughout the whole process.  When assessing alternative sites for the incinerator, instead of ruling out ones that were too polluted: “Criteria relating to air quality were removed from the assessment because…No sites could meet the air quality criterion…” (Alternative Sites Assessment, pg 9, para 2.34).

Not that this matters, they’ve got round the issue of building the incinerator in an air quality management area by increasing the height of the chimneys so that the bulk of the pollution will fall outside of it, thereby ensuring an egalitarian approach to poisoning the population.

A number of years ago Sutton council were careful to make sure we got the right deal when agreeing to Viridor’s landfill site, a deal which was supposed to guarantee us a country park and bring an end to waste treatment on the site. 

Clearly these ‘legally binding’ mitigation packages are not worth the paper they are written on.

It doesn’t help that Viridor also hold us in so little regard they think they can get away with saying one thing and doing another.  Like a good pantomime villain their actions are contemptible yet predictable. The recent announcement that they want to have a 24/7 facility next door to the incinerator is no surprise.

With the council saying yes to every request Viridor make, the country park promise will soon be nothing more than a small patch of grass in the corner.

Accuracy and attention to detail are not things Sutton Council seem interested in.  According to their own internal memo on the submission of the plans (a copy of it can be seen at the end of this article), the incinerator will save the partnership councils £5 billion over 25 years.  According to all other  public statements it will save £200m.

Even this sum doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.  The cost of sending rubbish to the incinerator can be over  four times as much per tonne as anaerobic digestion or composting.  If the council had chosen something other than incineration then the savings could have been even greater. 

Sutton Council seem to think that “The Stop the Incinerator Campaign have announced their intention to judicially review the Council.”

We have done nothing of the sort.

I can confirm, on behalf of Stop the Incinerator, that we are NOT taking legal action against Sutton Council.  The facts are this:  the case is being brought by an individual, Shasha Khan, and not by the group.  As a local resident opposed to the incinerator he of course helps out with our campaign but he is the one who is taking the council to court and not the group.

How are we supposed to trust a council who doesn’t know what it’s doing and a waste company that cares only about profit?  This incinerator is being built on a foundation of lies and misinformation.  The council maintain they have followed the planning process correctly.  If so, it has been at the expense of reason and compassion. 

This planning decision is morally bankrupt and the truth that this incinerator is a polluting killer is being blatantly ignored.


Beddington ERF planning proposals

Issue of decision notice briefing

Frequently Asked Questions

(For LBS Members/officers)

 Purpose of this note:

This note assembles background information to enable ward members to answer questions that they may receive during the course of the ward business.

Given the risks of legal action against the Council as Local Planning Authority, members and officers are advised to provide information only reactively and to focus on factual responses.

Members are encouraged to refer residents’ questions which they feel need to be answered to Member enquiries where they will be logged and forwarded to Jim Redwood and Eleanor Purser. Press enquiries should be forwarded to Andreas Christophorou


Planning permission for the Beddington ERF will be granted to Viridor as the applicant when the planning decision notice is issued on 14th March.

Q: What is Viridor legally obliged to do to address any impact on the immediate area?

The planning permission is subject to 45 planning conditions, and also a legal agreement. The legal agreement provides for the following:



Wildlife warden £40,000 pa for 25 years (index linked)
Community fund One-off payment of £250,000 plus £25,000 pa for 25 years, and £100,000 lump sum in 2024 (index linked)
Travel/construction management plan £40,500
Air quality monitoring £35,000
Bio-diversity and opublic access Adding of part of 100 Acres for habitat creation and part of SAM site for access to Beddington Lane, plus £50,000 funding
Off-site landscaping £35,000 to fund off-site landscaping
Combined Heat and Power Commitment to support working group and one-off funding of £100,000
Community Infrastructure Levy £80,000 (to Crossrail)

Total costed items = £2,315,500

Items provided ‘in kind’:

  • Tree sparrow strategy
  • Education centre
  • Brown roof on education centre
  • Securing 100 acres and SAM land for enhanced biodiversity and public access
  • Apprenticeships and local employment opportunities
  • Construction Management Plan, including measures to encourage use of public transport

Q: Where are the planning decision and the legal agreement available?

A: The planning decision is on the Councils website (go to ‘online planning register’ and type in ‘66220’ – the application reference no). The s106 agreement is also on the planning register and can be inspected on request. The Council has also prepared a statement (called a ‘regulation 24 statement’) setting out the background to the decision. This is available on the website and for inspection at the planning offices.

Q: Does this mean Viridor can start to build immediately?

A: They need other permits or consents, eg from the Environment Agency, and the planning conditions require a number of things to be resolved before work can commence.

Q: When do they expect to start building?

A: They intend to start building some time this year.

Q: When will it be operational?

A: They are planning for it to be operational in 2017

Q: Will there be a Judicial Review of the decision to grant planning permission?

A: This is a possibility. The Stop the Incinerator Campaign have announced their intention to judicially review the Council. There is a six week window following the decision to grant planning permission during which a legal challenge could be launched.

Q: If there is a Judicial Review, what happens?

A: A Judicial Review is when there is a challenge to the decision on administrative grounds asserting that a public body has not followed the legal requirements which should govern the decision making process. The Council would be the defendant in any such  proceedings.   A High Court judge will decide whether there is a case to answer based on formal submissions made to the Court by any challenger and the Council.  The case could be thrown out at this point. If however the case proceeds, there will then be a full hearing. The outcome of this could be either that the Council’s decision stands, or that the decision making process is found to be flawed. The Council believes that it has followed all processes correctly. If however the decision were to be found to be flawed the Judge could issue a ‘quashing order’ ie the Judge could require the Local Planning Authority to set aside the original decision. This would normally mean taking an application back to Development Control Committee for it to be re-determined.

Q: Could planning permission be refused if this happens?

A: Yes, the planning application would be considered afresh, although the issues that were taken into account previously would still apply, and if the planning committee came to a different decision without good reason, this would provide grounds for appeal by the applicant.

Q: How long would a Judicial Review take?

A: Anything from 4 to 18 months

Q: Would this delay the building of the ERF?

A: A Judicial Review does not of itself invalidate the planning permission, but it is possible that Viridor may delay construction until it was resolved.

Q: How much would a Judicial Review cost the Council?

A: The costs vary significantly from case to case. The Council is confident that it has followed all procedures correctly.  If successful the Council would seek to recover its costs from any challenger, although the Court may limit the amount of costs which the Council is able to recover.

Q: What are the benefits of the ERF?

A: From a planning point of view, the main benefit is that there would be no more landfill at Beddington, and the waste that is now buried will be burned and turned into energy.

The South London Waste Partnership’s view is:

The ERF will provide a safe, financially viable and environmentally sustainable way of dealing with our non-recyclable household waste.

Instead of burying ‘black bag’ waste in the ground at Beddington landfill site, it will instead be treated using tried and tested technologies, turning the waste into valuable electricity and heat.

The facility will:

  • Produce enough electrify to power 30,000 homes every year
  • Help divert 95% of household waste away from landfill
  • Cut CO2 emissions by almost 128,000 every year
  • Create 40 skilled permanent jobs once operational (and hundreds of jobs during the construction phase)
  • Deliver £2m of local investment to support a community fund, pay for a wildlife warden, improve landscaping in the Beddington area and improve public access to the Beddington Farmlands site
  • Save Sutton, Croydon, Kingston and Merton Councils (the four partners that make up the South London Waste Partnership) £200m per year – money that can be used to protect other vital front line servicesQ: What about impact on air quality?

A: The Council is satisfied that all emissions are within safe limits. The Environment Agency has also granted the facility a permit and will monitor emissions to ensure they remain within safe limits.

Q: What about site traffic?

A: There will be construction traffic while the ERF is being built, but arrangements are being put in place to make sure it avoids unsuitable roads. When it’s operational there will be no more traffic than if the landfill operation continued.

Q: What about the plans for a country park?

A: There is a long-term commitment to create a nature conservation area and provide public access to some parts of the Beddington Farmlands once landfill operations have finished. Although the ERF will take some of this land, additional land is being provided to compensate. Because the restored land has been used for landfill it will be some time before it can be safely used by the general public.

Q: What do you think of the design?

A: The design of the building was endorsed by the Design Council which is the organization set up by the Government to support good design. The building will be visible from a number of areas, but some funding is being provided for off-site landscaping.