Council Questions

We encourage everyone to do what campaign member Maeve has done and that is hold your council to account by asking them questions at their next full council meeting.

There are four councils complicit in the building of the South London Incinerator – Sutton, Croydon, Merton and Kingston.  Details of how you can ask them a question can be found on the relevant council website and also on our web site here.

Here are the questions Maeve asked at the last Sutton Council meeting along with their ‘answers’!

2 Question from Maeve Tomlinson, 83 Onslow Gardens, Wallington, to

Councillor Jill Whitehead, Chair of Environment and Neighbourhood


Disposing of our waste by incineration is one of the most expensive options for

residents due to the high gate fees, while also being damaging to our health and

environment, so how can the council justify using public money to fight Shasha

Khan’s continuing legal challenge to stop the incinerator?

Reply by Councillor Jayne McCoy, Chair of Housing, Economy and Business


Thank you, thank you Ms Tomlinson for your question. Mr Khan has indeed cost

Sutton Council and local taxpayers a considerable amount of money with his Stop

the Incinerator campaign. And it’s a common and perhaps deliberate

misunderstanding that the judicial review that he brought as part of his campaign is

a challenge to the decision to use incineration to dispose of local waste that would

otherwise go to landfill. In fact, the judicial review was brought in respect of the

decision to grant planning permission for this waste management facility. And a

challenge can only be brought on the assertion that the council did not follow

planning process. That judicial review has now been concluded with the judge

throwing out all of Mr Khan’s arguments as having no grounds whatsoever and

confirming that Sutton as the local planning authority had correctly followed the

proper procedures and given due consideration to all planning aspects of the


Appendix A to Council:

Public Questions

19 January 2015

Given that this is a challenge to the professional of our planning department, we

are duty bound to fight to maintain the Council’s professional integrity. However,

it’s obviously fair and right that there is a form of legal challenge to planning

applications available to the public in the form of a judicial review that can be used

in the appropriate circumstances and when major applications are made, this

Council’s aware of that risk of judicial review and does set aside a contingency

budget for just that situation.

However, I cannot let the assertions in Ms Tomlinson and the Green Party’s

question that incineration is the more expensive option for our residents and that

this energy from waste facility will result in an increased risk to residents and to

residents health and the environment because both these statements are in

contradiction to the expert and professional advice formally received in respect to

the energy from waste facility and the actually financial implications of awarding

the contract. Thank you.

 Supplementary Question asked by Maeve Tomlinson

Are you aware of Public Health England’s report from April 2014 in which it

highlighted to Local Authorities that air quality, there’s a lot of pollution in air quality

and we need to be working towards improving air quality via traffic and I think, and

also creating energy through incineration is going to contribute to more air

pollution. So I’m just concerned about the 600 lorries a day that are going to serve

this incinerator which is going to further increase air pollution and also there’s

going to be about 75,000 tonnes of ash created from all the waste that’s burned,

and that’s got to also be taken away from the incineration plant and taken

elsewhere, so all the lorries that are going to be carrying that waste is going to

make more air pollution and there are alternatives for getting rid of waste in a more

clean way. So I just wanted to know what is the Council doing to improve air quality

in the London Borough of Sutton?

Reply by Councillor McCoy

Thank you for your supplementary question. I am aware of that report and I can

advise that the health impacts of the proposal were considered extensively through

the planning process. Key stakeholders including the Environment Agency,

Sutton’s own environmental Health Team were consulted and a specialist Air

Quality Consultant, and they advised the Council’s Local Planning Authority. There

was some concern about the traffic impacts and the application was reconsidered

in the context of additional advice, and as part of this meeting, nation advice from

the Health Protection Agency, from the Department for the Environment, Farming

and Rural Affairs, were that any health impacts of any well managed energy from

waste facilities are very small and unlikely to be detectable and the Council’s Local

Planning Authority was satisfied that taking into account this expert advice there

would be no material harm to public health. With regard to your statement about

the traffic movements as part of the planning process a lot of information was

gathered in respect of the traffic movements and it is anticipated that over the

period of the waste facility being implemented that the traffic movements ought to

be less than they are currently, because all that’s happening is the that the waste

that’s being delivered to that current landfill site will be diverted to the incinerator,

as you refer to it, but over time because of the processes it will actually be

reduced. So we should be reducing that, so it should have a beneficial impact on

air quality. Thank you.

3 Question from Maeve Tomlinson, 83 Onslow Gardens, Wallington, to

Councillor Jill Whitehead, Chair of Environment and Neighbourhood


Collecting segregated recycling saves the most public money, so what steps is the

council taking to improve these recycling rates in Sutton?

Reply by Councillor Jill Whitehead, Chair of Environment and

Neighbourhood Committee

Thank you. The benefits of collecting segregated material against those of comingled, that’s collecting all together, collections will be explored through Sutton’s

inclusion in the South London Waste Partnership’s ongoing procurement exercise

for waste collection and street cleansing services. This process will explore the

different regimes and challenge bidders to provide the most appropriate and cost

efficient services for the partner boroughs. Through this procurement, the South

London Waste Partnership (SLWP) will seek innovative solutions to reduce the

cost and increase the environmental performance of waste and cleansing services.

Sutton continues to appreciate the importance of increasing recycling and has

successfully bid for funding from the Department of Communities and Local

Government (DCLG) to minimise waste and enhance our recycling performance.

This project is also supported by Sutton’s inclusion in the SLWP commissioned

communications campaign called “Kerching” in the summer of 2014.

Supplementary Question asked by Maeve Tomlinson

As has been seen in other areas of London, when an incinerator is used to dispose

of rubblish, the recycling rates tend to go down, so what is Sutton Council going to

do to combat that?

Reply by Councillor Whitehead

As I mentioned, all our solutions for segregating material will be undertaken by the

South London Waste Partnership and this is a shared partnership arrangement

between the London Borough of Sutton, the London Borough of Merton, the

London Borough of Croydon and the London Borough of Kingston and in fact we’re

having a meeting tomorrow to discuss this very thing.

Supplementary Question asked by Councillor Tim Crowley

Appendix A to Council:

Public Questions

19 January 2015

Thank you your worship. What I was going to ask was, in the light of Councillor

Whitehead’s answer, that we’re going to seek innovative solutions, does she think

that it is correct then as was mentioned in last week’s Environment and

Neighbourhoods Committee, that we’re increasing the cost of trade waste by only

2% this year, but we’re increasing the cost of recycled waste to trade customers by

over 30%? Thank you.

Reply by Councillor Whitehead

As Councillor Crowley knows, our fees and charges were based this year on what

had been increased in previous years and what had not been increased in

previous years. As last year, we increased recycling, this year we needed to

increase the trade waste so that means we’re now up-to-date with our price

increases as they should be.