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Incinerator for Croydon and Sutton border is recommended for approval

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THE controversial incinerator planned on the Croydon-Sutton border should be approved, says Sutton council's planning chief.

Viridor's plans for the "energy from waste" facility off Beddington Lane are due to be decided upon by Sutton councillors at a public meeting on Wednesday next week.

In his report to that meeting, the council's head of planning and transportation Jay Judge said the facility is "sufficiently justified in terms of need".

He added that there were "no grounds for refusal on air quality or traffic grounds" as long as certain planning conditions were secured.

The proposal facility on the 97-hectare, mostly landfill site, would have the capacity to burn 275,000 tonnes of waste a year, and would serve Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston.

Those boroughs have a contract with Viridor for it to take and process waste otherwise destined for landfill until 2040 .

Mr Judge said that, while the plans went against local and London-wide strategies to protect the "open character" of the area, they were justified by "very special circumstances."

He added: "These include the urgent need to divert waste from landfill in line with European directives and UK Government targets, the existing use of the land for waste management in line with development plan policy, and the identification of local markets for heat."

He added that the supply of heat generated by the site to local homes could not be "guaranteed", but said there was a "strong business case" for Viridor to enter an agreement with ESCO, an energy supply company.

"So there is reason to give sufficient weight to the proposals being implemented," he added.

Viridor recently raised the height of the two proposed chimney stacks from 85 to 95 metres, in order to reduce the concentration of nitrogen dioxide emitted in the surrounding area.

Opposition to the plans remains steep, centred on health, pollution and environmental concerns.

Shasha Khan, founder of Stop the South London Incinerator Campaign and spokesman for the Green Party's Croydon branch, said: "This application is the most profitable, least sustainable, lung-poisoning application that Viridor can get past planners today.

"There are other much better solutions, such as anaerobic digestion and mechanical and biological treatment, which other councils across the country are opting for.

"Council officers have bowed to the pressure exerted by multinational waste contractors and this is what has happened here. We are still hopeful that councillors on the development committee will reject the recommendations."

The campaign is organising a protest which will take place at 6.45pm outside Sutton Civic Centre next Wednesday.

Councillors do not have to abide by their officers' recommendations, but the council could be liable for appeal costs if they are shown to have acted unreasonably.

A spokesman for Sutton Council said: "This report is based on a comprehensive fact-checking process and consultation with public organisations, like the Environment Agency.

"It is now for councillors to make a decision on how to approach the application within the boundaries of planning law."

If councillors pass the plan, it could then be reviewed by the Mayor of London or Communities Secretary. Viridor would also need a permit for the facility from the Environment Agency.


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