INCINERATOR GETS GO-AHEAD
Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s office has granted planning approval for the Viridor Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) incinerator in Sutton for the treatment of four London council’s (Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton and Sutton) waste.
Assembly member Jenny Jones (Green Party) said:“The Mayor’s decision is an environmental disaster for south London and the recycling and composting industry.
“The Mayor has failed to observe his own planning and waste policies which state that incineration is the least desirable form of waste management. Instead he has put the interests of big business first, before legitimate environmental concerns and the interests of local residents that will be affected by his decision”
In her letter of objection to Boris, Jenny Jones made the following points:
Beddington Farmlands Waste Management Facility Planning application No: D2012/66220
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 councils (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, i.e. 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 pc, or even 80 pc. According to 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.
(Source: London Assembly press release)
New Government proposals could undermine efforts to tackle air pollution in the capital, which is already worse than anywhere else in the UK, the London Assembly has warned.
The committee highlights how London has worse air pollution – and more people exposed to it – than anywhere else in the country.
It is estimated there are over 4,000 extra deaths each year in London attributable to particulates – up to nine per cent of all deaths in the capital’s most polluted areas.
The Committee also told Defra it is worried about proposals to end the designation of Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) which are essential to guiding local action on pollution and implementing London-wide planning policies.
It says the capital is set to be the deciding factor for when the UK complies with EU pollutant limits and warns that none of the options put forward in the consultation is likely to work for London or the UK as a whole.
Environment committee chairman Murad Qureshi,said: “London has the worst air quality in the country with thousands of people dying prematurely each year in the capital because of toxic airborne particles.
“Worryingly, these Government proposals could undermine measures that are currently being taken the tackle the problem and make it impossible to target action effectively. If local monitoring stations are shut down, how will we build up an accurate picture of what is happening across the capital?
“The Government needs to develop alternative plans in close consultation with the Mayor and others in the capital if it wants to clean up the air we breathe in London and across the UK as a whole.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is consulting on Local Air Quality Management. More information about the consultation is available here
Further info: June 2010 Report on estimation of mortality impacts of particulate air pollution in London by Dr Brian G Miller of the Institute of Occupational Medicine.
See the list of figures for all London boroughs from the Public Health Observatory. The percentages give the fraction of all-cause adult mortality attributable to long-term exposure to current levels of anthropogenic (human-made) particulate air pollution – (measured as fine particulate matter, PM2.5). See also the committee’s issues paper, Air Pollution in London