Monday, August 26, 2013

***CKING IN SUTTON at the Carshalton Environmental Fair

Stall - front on - through the suns rays

Stall - side on

Just got a text from our local party treasurer, our stall at today's Environmental Fair raised a record amount of money, and we came home with a record number of names on our mailing list. One wonders if our Green MP Caroline Lucas' brave stand at Balcombe has increased the level of interest in the Green Party. Certainly, the levels of interest were increased once the giant 'FRACKING IN SUTTON' board (seen partly in the first picture) was placed on display. Festival goers were shocked to find out that Northdown Energy Limted has a licence to explore for shale gas in Sutton (see map below). A big thank you to everyone that helped put on such a fantastic stall. Special thanks to Tracey Hague.


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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Have Labour voters been taken for granted?


Press Release:


This evening the local Green Party has learnt that Deputy Mayor Sir Edward Lister has given the all-clear and backed Sutton Council’s decision to grant planning permission to build a waste incinerator in Beddington.

The plans still have to go before the Secretary of State before any building can begin. However, today’s decision is very disappointing.

Commenting on the decision, Shasha Khan said,

“This is a rubbish decision for a rubbish incinerator by a rubbish Mayor who is holidaying on the other side of the world. This decision will affect the health of tens of thousands of people in London and for this decision to be made while Boris Johnson is away just displays the arrogance of the political elite. In ten years’ time, local elected people will ask, what the hell were they thinking back in 2013 to approve a 302,000 tonnes capacity incinerator with a 25 year contract when other boroughs earn money from recycling?

As Secretary of the Stop The Incinerator, I had already spoken to the campaigns’ legal team given this was a possible outcome. We had pre-empted this decision and will have further discussions with our solicitors about taking this decision to judicial review.

Through the legal team, powerful reasons to reject the application were identified. The application failed to meet London strategies on waste, energy and climate.

I personally feel Croydon Labour Party collectively should have mobilised, just like it does a week before an election, and got 20,000 signed objection letters sent off to the Mayor of London. Labour councillors should have knocked on doors because the case officer had already explained that the Mayor would gauge the level of opposition when making his decision. If the case officer had an additional 20,000 letters piled on her desk she would maybe have taken an alternative view.  Greens have done the best we can with limited resources to collect letters of objection.

It is the Labour voter who lives north of the borough that will suffer with poorer health once this incinerator is built. The wards of Broad Green, West Thornton, Thornton Heath, Selhurst and Bensham Manor are adjacent to the site, and each of them has sitting Labour councillors with massive majorities. These Labour councillors have taken their voters for granted. I would feel ashamed if I was a councillor and I hadn’t gone out to collect letters of objection.

To the perceptive observer  it appears, privately, Croydon Labour don’t mind if the incinerator is built because that is the winning ticket to take back Waddon ward, crucial to Labours’ strategy  to win back control of Croydon council in 2014. They can now knock on doors in Waddon and tell voters that the Tory council has built an incinerator a short distance from where they live. Their opposition has been token and eleventh hour.

Local Greens have pledged £2000 to the Stop The Incinerator legal fund. Despite an annual income of around £30m, Labour have already told the Stop The Incinerator campaigners that they will not contribute financially towards a judicial review. Maybe this is because they are not really against incinerators in principle, unlike the Green Party. If you look across the border in Merton, the Labour Party is in favour of the application.

In actual fact, Stop The Incinerator campaigners are personally out of pocket because they have had to pay for legal costs. Legal work was instructed because Croydon Labour said they would organise a fundraiser at the start of summer to help pay the bills. This fundraiser was put back until September, September is just over two weeks away and we still haven’t heard a word about their event.”

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Can we stop the incinerator

 Can we......

We are led to understand that the Mayor of London's office will announce today its decision on whether to approve the Beddington incinerator. Technically Boris' office [quoting from an email received from the case officer - Samantha Wells] must make the decision on whether Sutton Council's recommendation will stand, or that he (the Mayor) shall act as the local planning authority for the purposes of determining the application (known as Stage 2). The Mayor's determination must be based on issues of strategic importance to London, and he has the power to either direct a Council to refuse planning permission or become the local planning authority for the purposes of determining the application.

The Mayor's duties when considering the application at Stage 2 is to consider the scale of local opposition, and when the time comes to reporting the case to the Mayor, officers will explain in further detail the scale of the local opposition to the proposed development.

To this end we the Stop The Incinerator group collected many signatures and have sent thousands of letters to the Mayor. Our London assembly members have also been doing the best to support the campaign (see press release below).

If the Mayor's office approves, and we understand whilst Boris is holidaying in Australia it his deputy Edward Lister who will make the decision, it is from today that the application to build a giant incinerator in Beddington is finally approved, hence, all the campaign groups that are part of the Stop The Incinerator network have 3 months (from today)  to go down the judicial review route.

That said they might refuse, and they should do, because the application goes against the grain of the Mayor's climate, waste and energy strategies.

Mayor’s office will make Sutton Incinerator decision, tomorrow

The Mayor’s office (1) is due to make a final decision on the Viridor Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) incinerator in Sutton tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday 21st August. The proposed incinerator if given the go ahead will burn waste from four London boroughs (Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton and Sutton). London Assembly Member Jenny Jones has strongly urged the Mayor to reject this application in her letter (2) and then followed up with a Mayor’s question (3)

Jenny Jones said:

“Building a giant incinerator on metropolitan open land is not only contrary to the Mayor’s own planning policies and his waste hierachy, but it’s a recipe for a disaster for wildlife and local residents who will be exposed to unacceptable levels of air pollution coming from the chimney stacks”

“The Mayor has an opportunity to reject this proposal tomorrow. A rejection will send a clear signal to the waste industry and councils that signing new contracts that will see hundreds of thousands of tonnes of perfectly recyclable waste burned is completely unacceptable”

1) In Boris Johnson’s absence, Edward Lister the Mayor of London’s Deputy Mayor for Planning will make the decision on behalf of the Mayor of London.

2) Jenny Jones’s letter of objection to Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson
Mayor of London
City Hall
The Queen’s Walk
London SE1 2AA

29th May 2013

Beddington Farmlands Waste Management Facility
Planning application No: D2012/66220

I am very concerned at the type of waste facility proposed at the existing landfill and recycling site in Beddington. Specifically, its detrimental impact on the natural environment, on local air quality, and on undermining the waste hierarchy.

Metropolitan Open Land: this is an inappropriate development on Metropolitan Open Land and contrary to London Plan policy 7.7 which gives MOL the strongest protection.

Air Quality: Contrary to London Plan policy 7.14, the development proposal will lead to further deterioration of local air quality from both vehicle movements associated with the delivery of waste and removal of ash, and from the flue gases emitted through the chimney stacks, particularly as this is already an Air Quality Management Area.

Biodiversity and conservation: The site is of exceptional importance for birds in London, with nationally important populations of several species and one of the longest species lists in London (82 bird species were recorded at the Beddington SMI during the 2011 breeding season). As a Metropolitan wildlife site, it is part of the key strategic framework for biodiversity described in policy 7.19 and is in the Mayor’s Biodiversity Strategy. The scheme will result in the permanent loss of wildlife habitat and a change in absolute character of the Beddington Farmland. It also does not address the issues of the failed Conservation Management Plan and current decline in the conservation target species. It is therefore contrary to London Plan policy 2.18 and 7.19.

Waste issues:
The Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) is a combined heat and power incinerator proposed by Viridor, the South London Waste Partnership’s preferred bidder for the treatment of four London council’s (Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton and Sutton) with a maximum waste capacity of 302,000 tonnes per annum (tpa). According to Viridor they expect to incinerate 200,000 tpa of residual municipal waste collected from households from the partnership area.

Type of waste facility: The Mayor’s London Plan (para 5.86) policy on energy recovery from waste states that ‘energy recovery should be carried out through advanced conversion techniques, ie gasification, pyrolysis or anaerobic digestion’. The ERF is therefore contrary to this policy.

Residual waste: Only genuine ‘residual waste’, the element that cannot be recycled or composted, should be considered for energy generation. However, as the South London Waste Plan has not set out plans to maximise recycling/composting targets, which according to the Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly are in the region of 70 per cent, or even 80 per cent according to the Friends of the Earth, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recyclable and compostable material will be incinerated over the period of the contract. 

The resolution passed in May 2012 by the European Parliament calling for a limit on incineration with energy recovery to ‘non-recyclable materials only’ by 2020 needs to be taken into consideration. Particularly as it is likely to pave the way for far more ambitious and stringent incineration polices in the forthcoming review of the EU Waste Framework Directive, and within the lifetime envisaged in this application. 

Waste capacity and 30 year contract: Whilst incineration may offer the easiest alternative to landfill and avoiding escalating landfill charges, this short term solution, will have long term detrimental consequences. It won’t provide incentives to maximise recycling/composting rates, nor will it discourage unsorted residual household black bag waste. Instead, vast amounts of climate changing carbon dioxide and pollution will be produced and valuable natural resources that could be recycled will be incinerated.

Greenhouse gas emissions and carbon intensity floor assessments (CIF): Viridor’s ERF plan does not offer significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Their ‘Needs Assessment and Carbon Balance’ document only compares the ERF to the landfill site, not other available waste treatment options such as recycling, reuse or other renewable energy sources. The Working out of CIF is based on the displacement of gas, however, well within the lifetime of the plant renewable energy is very likely to outstrip gas as the major supplier. There is a good chance the ERF could be displacing and preventing energy that could come from more environmentally friendly options.

For the reasons set out above, I strongly urge you to direct refusal.

Jenny Jones
Green Party Member of the London Assembly

3) Mayor’s Question submitted for 19th June Mayor’s Question Time

Sutton incinerator 
Question by Jenny Jones AM:
The proposed Energy Recovery Facility in Beddington, Sutton, will incinerate hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recyclable waste over the period of the contract. A resolution passed in May 2012 by the European Parliament called for incineration with energy recovery to be limited to ‘non-recyclable materials only’ by 2020. As this is may pave the way for far more stringent incineration polices within the lifetime of the proposed facility, following the forthcoming review of the EU Waste Framework Directive, will you consider this as a material consideration in your forthcoming Stage II decision?

Answer from Boris Johnson:
I was consulted on the planning application for the energy from waste facility at Beddington Lane and provided my initial comments on 20 September 2012. I raised a number of issues relating to waste planning, Metropolitan Open Lane, biodiversity, sustainable development, design, air quality and transport. I am aware that the Council has resolved to grant consent and that the application is due to be referred back to me once the section 106 is drafted, therefore I cannot comment specifically about the merits of this proposal.


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Monday, August 19, 2013

Balcombe video

Video shot in the Green Party gazebo at the Balcombe protest site.

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Frack off Cuadrilla and Northdown

At the Balcombe protest


Press release:

Local Green visits Balcombe on day Green Party MP is arrested during peaceful protest.

Earlier today Croydon Green Party leader, Shasha Khan, travelled to Balcombe in West Sussex to show support for residents in their stand against fracking.

Protests have been going on at Balcombe since fracking company Cuadrilla began exploratory drilling for shale oil there four weeks ago.

Fracking poses serious environmental risks, including air and soil pollution, and threatens already overstretched water resources. It makes a mockery of the UK’s efforts to tackle climate change.
And it won’t even help bring energy prices down. It’s not just Greens saying that: everyone from senior executives at Norddeutsche Landesbank, analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance and even Cuadrilla’s own PR people say that the development of shale gas resources in the UK is unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in UK natural gas prices.

Although shale oil and gas exploration is at an early stage in the UK, a licence has already been granted in Croydon – so industrial sites could pop up in our borough, bringing a huge increase in heavy goods traffic as drilling materials, water, chemicals, waste and the extracted gas or oil are transported to and from the sites..
These licences are to extract the gas or oil, they don’t specify the method to be used.  In order to frack, the companies would need further specific permits. The Government is currently trying to make the permissions process easier for the companies to get permissions and harder for residents to oppose.

Commenting on his visit, Mr Khan said, “When the first modern incinerators were built in other parts of country, we would never have expected one such facility would receive planning approval on our doorstep. We cannot assume that it will never happen in Croydon given Northdown Energy Limited already has a license to frack here (1).  I am particular concerned about toxic chemicals getting into our drinking water.”

Balcombe will be a test case for the entire South East, so it is important we do all we can to demonstrate our opposition and inform people about the risks of fracking, and the myths being perpetuated by the industry and its apologists in government.

The Greens are the only political party completely against any shale gas exploitation. We need to heed the warnings of other European countries, such as France, who have banned fracking entirely.

Earlier in the day, Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, was arrested during a peaceful protest.
Commenting on the arrest, Shasha continued, “Croydon Greens back her brave stance against fracking. For once an MP has been arrested for the right reasons.”

Instead of continuing to chase ever more extreme forms of fossil fuel energy, we should be investing in energy conservation and renewable energy, creating an affordable, job-rich, energy-secure future.


Notes (1)


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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Fracking in Croydon

I have been forwarded the following email which initially had been sent to councillors by Paul Spooner, a director at Croydon Council.

Please find below our response to any enquiries you may receive regarding this subject.
A recent article ( has highlighted interest in Croydon.
It states that “Northdown Energy Limited has been given permission to explore Croydon for natural gas and oil. These licences, under current regulations, allow the licence-holder to investigate opportunities for shale gas extraction, or fracking, across a 400 sq km area, including Croydon.”
Croydon is 87 sq km, so this is for a much larger area.
According to Company’s House, Northdown Energy Limited is an Active business incorporated in England & Wales on 9th September 2011. Their business activity is recorded as Extraction Of Crude Petroleum. Northdown Energy Limited is run by 2 current members. 1 shareholder owns the total shares within the company. It is also part of a group. The latest Annual Accounts submitted to Companies House for the year up to 28/02/2013 reported 'cash at bank' of £456,535, 'liabilities' worth £17,345, 'net worth' of £451,827 and 'assets' worth £469,172.
Before a company can see whether oil or gas reserves are available, they must obtain a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) from the  Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). This licence gives them the power to ‘search and bore for and get’ the Crown’s resources, such as oil and gas.
The company must then come to the Minerals Planning Authority (ie us) for planning permission for exploration.
Before starting works the operator must also gain a ‘well consent’ for exploration from the DECC. At this stage, if the intention is to ‘frack’, the DECC would impose the new controls introduced in December 2012. These controls require a geological assessment identifying faults, a ‘Frack Plan’, and monitoring of seismic activity before, during and  after fracking. The DECC also consult the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive.
The Environment Agency may also require an Environmental Permit at the exploration phase, and are likely to require an abstraction licence if more than 20,000 litres per day is to be abstracted.
If they then wish to go into production to actually extract gas, the company must gain a new planning permission from the Minerals Planning Authority (London Borough of Croydon), a Field Development Consent from the DECC, and an Environmental Permit from the Environment Agency and so far we have had no contact with any of the parties mentioned.
We cannot undertake to keep individuals informed of such matters. We will publicise any planning submissions in the normal way.
Several members have received similar emails sent from a wide number of different people – clearly co-ordinated as the emails are from a range of about 3 or 4 variables.
ThanksPaul Spooner

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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Community Vegetable Garden opens

Online piece:

My comment to the papers:

"When I heard that Croydon Transition Town had formed and were getting active I suggested to one of their members that Thornton Heath Recreation Ground could spare an area in their park for a Community Vegetable Garden. It was fairly straight forward given I'm Treasurer of Friends of Thornton Heath Recreation Ground! Moreover, the Friends group have been keen to try something like this for a while. Croydon Council have been supportive and now Winterbourne Infants School have got involved too, with the labelling of the different vegetables. This is a truly sustainable project, and I hope in decades to come people in Croydon will see that that in 2013 community groups came together to make use of a redundant patch of park to grow food locally to be consumed locally."

JM cuts the ribbon after I make a short speech

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Saturday, August 03, 2013

Solicitors send powerful letter to the Mayor

Up to this man now

It has been a tricky few weeks since it first came to light that a legal challenge was gathering pace. My colleagues in the Stop The Incinerator committee and I have been busy collating information, sometimes through Freedom of Information requests. On Thursday last week a letter was finally sent to the Mayor of London with detailed arguments, demanding Boris block plans to build the incinerator as the application is damaging to the environment and goes against his own planning objectives on waste, energy and climate.

I spent Thursday and Friday contacting the Daily Telegraph and The Times and other media outlets pushing the accompanying media release. I spoke to the reporter at the Daily Telegraph who wrote a piece which is very relevant to us:

Given the site is Metropolitan Open Land - in other words Green Belt - I was hoping he would carry the story. He still might as he knows Boris has 2/3 weeks left to make his decision.

A big thank you to the solicitors at Deighton, Pierce and Glynn for their efforts.

The press release appears on the Deighton, Pierce and Glynn web site:

Campaigners demand Boris blocks plans to build incinerator on country park. 

The actual letter is hyperlinked on the press release. However, if you miss it, here it is:

Coverage in local papers:
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Standing up for what matters