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BBC One Show presenter fears Croydon/Sutton incinerator will destroy bird colonies

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A BBC presenter and birdwatcher has voiced his concern about the potential impact of the Beddington Lane incinerator on nearby wildlife.

David Lindo, known as the Urban Birder through his work on BBC's The One Show, said the facility could have a devastating impact on the resident bird population.

Beddington Farmlands, the site of the proposed incinerator, is home to more than 100 species of birds, including one of the largest populations of tree sparrow in the UK.

Its numbers have dropped dramatically in the past 40 years, and Beddington is one of the few places to have retained breeding pairs in significant numbers.

Mr Lindo said he was "devastated" after learning the incinerator had been approved by Sutton Council in May.

"My heart sank when I heard the council, London Assembly and the Secretary of State have sanctioned the construction of the incinerator at Beddington Farmlands," he said.

"I used to regularly watch birds at this amazing site. To this day it still remains a giant in the London birding scene and an important area for wildlife in general.

"Unfortunately its massive potential as a major site for Londoners, and for youngsters especially, to learn about the beauty of nature has already been blighted. It's nationally- renowned tree sparrow colony is already in steep decline.

"We cannot stand by and let this wonderful area be destroyed."

Mr Lindo has backed campaigners opposing the facility, which would burn 275,000 tonnes of waste each year.

They claim Viridor, the company chosen by the South London Waste Partnership to run the incinerator, has already cut down trees used by the birds for roosting at the site.

Paul Pickering, chairman of Stop the Incinerator, said: "Viridor hoped for early approval of its planning application to Sutton Council and wanted to ensure there were no obstacles that could delay site development.

"This cynical act has left the once-thriving colony of tree sparrow all but extinct on the site."

Peter Alfrey, a member of Beddington Farmlands Bird Group, said the felling has had a dramatic impact on tree sparrow numbers.

He said: "Of the eleven special bird species that breed on site that were protected under Viridor's previous planning permissions, all eleven have either declined or become extinct.

"Most alarmingly the tree sparrow – an iconic species for the site – has reduced from 1,000 in 2007 to only 15 today."

Campaigners also claim the incinerator will pose a significant health risk, citing reports of increased rates of cancer, birth defects and infant mortality in areas next to similar facilities.

They are trying to raise money to fund a judicial review which must be launched six weeks from the official decision date, which Sutton Council is expected to issue imminently, once a Section 106 agreement is signed with Viridor.

Victor Perez-Mares, from Viridor, said the company regularly engages with local wildlife groups and the management at Beddington is overseen by the Conservation Science Group.

He added a small amount of scrub and tree clearance had been carried out on the request of English Heritage, which believed it could have been damaging a Roman bath house. He said all necessary environmental checks were carried out, and before further works, advice would be sought from ecologists and local groups would be consulted.

BBC One Show presenter fears Croydon/Sutton incinerator will destroy bird colonies


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