What is happening in South London is being repeated up and down the country with Waste Authorities planning incinerators bigger than are needed to satisfy the greed of waste companies.
It seems the North London Waste Authority want to replace a 540,000 tpa burner with a 700,000 burner.
There is a sense of Déjà vu about this application. The grounds for refusal used by the Secretary of State seem almost as appropriate today as they were in 2002 when Patricia Hewitt issued her decision announcing that she had refused planning permission for an extension to the Edmonton Incinerator:
“In summary, I do not think the proposal establishes the need for increased incinerator capacity in the light of Government policy on the importance of recycling/composting. It fails to link incineration and recycling/composting in an integrated waste management plan for the site and the authorities that it serves. It would create a centralised facility serving 7 local authorities, more than twice the size of the next largest incinerator in the UK, which in the absence of sufficient local waste, could further increase the pressure to import waste from outside the local area, as is already the case with the current incinerator. As such it conflicts with the proximity principle, and the underlying policy of minimising waste traffic movement.
My over-riding concern is that it would send out the wrong signal to the waste companies and disposal authorities. Waste Strategy 2000 makes it clear that they should give priority to recycling and that incinerators should be appropriately sized. Granting permission to this proposal would seriously dilute the meaning that would be attached to these principles. For the reasons I would recommend that the proposal be turned down.”
Sadly there are no consistent planning decisions being made over incinerators. One will be turned down due to over capacity whilst the same reason will hold no weight for another planning application. Some incinerators are being refused permission due to the harm they will cause to Green Belt Land and for others (like the South London Incinerator) protected land has no status or value in the face of what the waste companies want.