Thursday, April 25, 2013

Incinerator fight goes on

Development committee meeting in Sutton

I think we are all a bit stunned by what happened last night. In dramatic scenes we came away with a score draw. Three committee members voted in favour, three against and two abstained. The Chair then had the casting vote and despite initially voting for the incinerator, he opted to defer.

I ended up speaking first. Below is my speech in full. I missed out the opening paragraph because I knew I was going over the allocated 4 minutes, and I felt the Chair wasn't going to let me go over. By the way, please check out an excellent blog by local party member Brendan Walsh.

Today I am speaking on behalf of the Croydon Green Party, but I am also speaking on behalf of the 130,000 people who live in the Croydon North area, where I live, who reside downwind from this proposed incinerator. This council may not have received their submission BUT it doesn’t mean they don’t care. Many don’t speak English as a first language, they are more concerned about, job security, paying the rent and getting food on the table. Councillor David Dean, from Merton, pointed out that if Wimbledon Village was downwind from the planned incinerator, you can be assured the council would face a £1m lawsuit for even contemplating such a solution. Is this fair? Is it fair that a deprived area that doesn’t have a wealthy residents association, able to afford a bank of lawyers with the technical expertise to scupper the plan – ends up with an incinerator?

I strongly believe that if the Liberal Democrats on this Council were in opposition, they would be sitting in this chair, their friends and family would be in the public gallery struggling to comprehend how the council can take such an immoral decision. You only need to go across the border to Merton to see the Liberal Democrats voted for a motion to Stop The Incinerator.

Now you might feel that I am speaking from an idealistic position, but I have to tell you what is on the table before you is not even a pragmatic solution. This is Viridor’s profit maximising solution, designed to tie in councils on long term, fixed tonnage for Viridor. This is not from me, this is actually on the Penon Group’s web site, Penon being the FTSE 250 parent company for Viridor. You don’t need reminding that Social and Environmental costs don’t appear on Penon’s balance sheet.

Viridor have built local sized Anaerobic digesters around the country, why not here? Other authorities are approving Mechanical and Biological Treatment plants. Why not here? Other councils are piloting newer more advanced technologies. Why not here?

It is important to note that the proposed incinerator does not pre sort the waste. Viridor claims that the waste is pre-sorted but their own propaganda video concedes that Viridor will treat the non-hazardous waste that is left after local residents and businesses have removed recyclable and compostable materials.

I would also query whether councillors have been impartial on this Committee. Councillors have visited Viridor’s Slough incinerator at the invitation of Viridor. Yet, Councillors have not attended screenings of the film Trashed, which by the way if they had, they would know that several European doctors associations representing  33,000 doctors wrote to the European Parliament citing widespread concerns on incinerator particle emissions, specifically fine and ultrafine particles.

What also needs to be considered are the CO2 emissions, which are levelled the same as a gas fired power station, per a unit of energy generated. How can this fit in with the Mayor of London’s target of 60 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions by 2025. Moreover, If the government adopts CO2 emissions targets for electricity generation – something Scotland already has done - who will bear the cost for this?

Residents in Beddington were promised a country park when the landfill license ended. How can this be a country park with two 95 metre pollution emitting chimneys inside it? Visitors to this country park and Beddington Park will no doubt feel a similar emotion to those who take a trip to the beach in South East Kent and look to their left and see Dungeness Nuclear Power station in the distance.

I sense what councillors are thinking... you see the projected  savings made by diverting waste away from landfill.

[Councillors may also reconcile themselves by saying that pesticides in the food chain are more of a concern than pollutants entering the food supply through incineration. They may also say that airport activity is going to affect Nitrogen Dioxide levels much more than this energy recovery facility. BUT that presupposes that something will be done about those things. This is not guaranteed. ]

You are in a unique situation in that you can actually make a difference tonight. You can even look at your projected savings from diverting waste away from landfill and focus on investing that money in reuse and recycling jobs to achieve those savings. This way, waste going to landfill will be cut and hundreds more jobs are created.  Two towns in Powys, in Wales, managed to rocket their recycling rate to 74 per cent. It can be done if there is the political will. If recycling rates were at 74 per cent in Sutton then we wouldn’t need this incinerator.

There are plenty of planning reasons to reject this application. [The location being a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation.; also an Air Quality Management Area and Metropolitan Open Land. The mitigation offered by Viridor is little more than confectionery.]

At the very least hold back approval until the Health Protection Agency reports back on the health effects of incinerators in 2014.

We urge you to take the honourable choice and vote down this proposal.


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Monday, April 22, 2013

From Stop The Incinerator


The Stop the South London Incinerator Campaign are calling on people to come along and protest against the plans for an giant incinerator at an upcoming planning meeting by Sutton Council.

Sutton councillors will be voting on the plans for a large incinerator to burn Sutton, Croydon, Merton and Kingston's waste for the next 25 years.

The Stop The Incinerator Campaign want as many people as possible to come along and protest, to show the level of public opposition to the plans to burn our waste, when there are better and safer alternatives that should be used instead.

What: Demonstration against the Incinerator

Where: at the front entrance of Sutton Civic Centre, St Nicholas Way, SM1 1EA

When: 7pm on Wednesday 24th April.

Gordon Ross
vice-chair, Stop the South London Incinerator Campaign.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Merton Labour vote to build an incinerator that will affect Labour voters in Croydon

I recently wrote to a handful of Labour councillors and activists in Croydon regarding events in Merton. I received fair responses from nearly all of them. For me, the most obvious way to block the planned in incinerator was for Croydon Labour to persuade Merton Labour to vote against it. 


Last week's Merton Full Council meeting had two waste related motions put before it.The Labour motion was carried and the Conservative motion rejected. Please can you help me understand why this happened? Is it simply because one party is in power and the other is in opposition, or is there something else to this?

Motion 2 (Labour)
Submitted by Councillors Agatha Akyi gyina, Brenda Fraser and Russell Makin
Council notes that our waste and recycling services help contribute to the
cleanliness of our borough and the quality of life of our residents. Council
therefore welcomes:
A 6% increase in resident satisfaction with our recycling services and a
recycling rate now at almost 40%
Waste collection services at  5% above the London average and 7%
above the outer London average, as measured in the 2012 Annual
Residents’ Survey
The next phase of the South West London Waste Partnership contract,
which will lead to savings of £27m over 25 years for the council, in
addition to almost completely ending our use of landfill.
Council acknowledges that, in addition to providing a good quality domestic
waste and recycling service, it is also important to focus on the cleanliness of the wider public realm and further welcomes:
The recent enforcement action against an individual who dropped litter
in Colliers Wood and who was subsequently ordered by the courts to
pay a fine and costs of £400
The pilot “smart bins” initiative in Morden to deal with the problem of
cigarette and chewing gum waste
The new “Street Champions” programme where local residents are
working with the council in reporting street scene issues.
Whilst welcoming all of the above initiatives, Council believes that the regular
street clean remains fundamental to a cleaner Merton and welcomes Cabinet
and Scrutiny’s decision not to support budgets reductions in this area.
Council further resolves to continue to protect the regular street clean going
forward, even in the face of the current squeeze on local government funding.

Motion 3 (Conservative)

Submitted by Councillors Richard Hilton, David Dean and Suzanne Evans.
This Council notes that:
Viridor was appointed in January 2012 as the preferred bidder for
the South London Waste Partnership’s £990 million waste treatment contract
and plans are being progressed for an incinerator at Beddington Lane;
The current plans include chimneys standing at 85 metres high that
will emit many tonnes of fine particle pollution, such as NO2, PM10
and PM2.5 into the local atmosphere;

The Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has already
raised objections to the inappropriate use of Metropolitan Open
Land for this purpose and to the loss of local wildlife habitat.

This Council believes that:
Beddington Lane, as a designated air quality management area,
already suffers with pollution and shares local residents’ concerns
that an incinerator could make pollution levels worse;
Insufficient reassurance has been provided by the developers,
Viridor to the serious concerns our residents hold;
We have a responsibility to make Merton a ‘Green Borough’ and
much of the waste proposed to be sent to the incinerator can and
should be recycled;
The proposal comprises inappropriate development on Metropolitan
Open Land for which very special circumstances are still to be
demonstrated in accordance with London Plan policy.

This Council resolves that:
the Cabinet Member write to Viridor seeking technical information on
how waste will be dealt with; more information on how the loss of
Metropolitan Open Land will be rectified; the need for a greater and
more detailed air quality analysis; and to address concerns about the
loss of a wildlife habitat which would result from the scheme as it

If the response is inadequate, Cabinet urges the London Borough of
Sutton to reject the proposals for the incinerator in favour of other
regional incinerators bidding for waste, and that Cabinet does not
consider any plans for an incinerator within Merton.

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Standing up for what matters