High Court Hearing Tomorrow

High Court hearing in challenge to planning permission for controversial South London incinerator starts tomorrow

The High Court will be hearing a fiercely fought two day judicial review challenge to a London council’s decision to grant planning permission for a large waste incinerator on land intended for a country park. The man behind the case is Shasha Khan, a hotel manager with a 2 year old daughter. He has fought an uphill battle to finance the case through ‘crowd funding’ getting donations from the local community and people all around the UK who believe that pollution from incinerators are damaging to health.

Mr Khan said “I am risking everything to bring this case. It is almost impossible for an ordinary family man like me to start an environmental court case against a council or developer, even where illegal or unfair decisions have been made. The country risks being blighted by waste incinerators which could be avoided by more imaginative approaches. We are only going ahead tomorrow after a last minute plea for cash”.

Mr Khan will be asking the judge to strike down the planning permission decision on the basis that Sutton made a number of serious errors in how they dealt with the application. There are four main arguments:

  • Ground 1 is that the site was due to become Wandle Valley Regional Park in 2023 under a local planning policy. Instead planning permission has been granted for 25 years for a waste incinerator.
  • Ground 2 is that councils can only allow building on Metropolitan Open Land – equivalent to green belt land in very special circumstances. Mr Khan argues there is no such justification here.
  • Ground 3: Before the application was decided Viridor entered into a contract with Sutton, and three other London Boroughs, to handle their waste and specifically to build the incinerator at Sutton. Mr Khan’s case is that this contractual relationship with the developer influenced the planning decision.
  • Ground 4 is that, Sutton should have done an environmental impact assessment on proposed pipelines being laid from the boundary of the site to neighbouring areas to transfer heat from the incinerator to local houses and businesses.

Sue Willman of Deighton Pierce Glynn said “Sutton have referred to Mr Khan as a self-confessed serial campaigner and suggested that he is taking this challenge merely because he does not approve of it himself. This is not correct. He is taking this challenge because he cares about his local environment and community and believes that Sutton made serious mistakes in how they dealt with application.

Planning decisions such as this one have a huge impact on local communities and shape the future of our public spaces for decades to come. This incinerator has been allowed on a space that was protected by the Mayor of London and Sutton to become one of London’s largest and most important green spaces for nature and for people. However the local community now face decades of further waste management activity in the area.”

Mr Khan’s legal team consists of solicitors Sue Willman and Charlie Dobson of Deighton Pierce Glynn who have instructed Justine Thornton of 39 Essex Street Chambers as counsel.

Press enquiries: Charlie Dobson, CDobson@dpglaw.co.uk 0207 407 0007

Background

The decision to build an incinerator at Beddington has been and remains a very controversial one. The incinerator is designed to handle all of the residual municipal waste from Merton, Croydon, Sutton and Kingston up until 2040. Although currently in temporary waste management use, the site is on Metropolitan Open Land (which has the same status as greenbelt) and has been safeguarded to become the centrepiece of the Wandle Valley Regional Park in 2023. The site is also designated as a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. Respected conservation groups such as the RSPB, the Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers, the Beddington Farmlands Bird Group and the London Wildlife Trust have objected to the development. It has also been extremely unpopular with local residents. Sutton received 10 petitions objecting to the development with almost 2000 signatures when it consulted on the application. 2 letters were received in support.

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