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Sutton Council has spent £70,000 and counting on incinerator court battle

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THE legal challenge against the decision to approve the Beddington Farmlands incinerator has so far cost Sutton Council £70,000.

Figures obtained by the Advertiser via a Freedom of Information request show the authority spent tens of thousands of pounds defending itself at the judicial review.

The £69,990 accrued so far includes £49,375 on external solicitors and a top QC, £19.389 on planning officers and consultants, and £1,226 for shorthand writers.

Campaigner Shasha Khan challenged Sutton's approval of the plan on four grounds, all of which were rejected by Judge Justice Patterson following a two-day review at the Royal Courts of Justice in October.

Mr Khan, who funded the legal challenge predominantly through donations to the Stop the Incinerator Campaign, has appealed the judgement.

His costs for the judicial review were capped at £5,000 but the final sum both he and the council will have to pay will not be known until the appeal is resolved.

Sutton declined to comment on the expenditure or how much it hopes to recover if the judge's ruling is upheld.

Viridor, which will build and operate the incinerator in a contract worth £1 billion, had declined to reveal how much it has spent on the legal dispute.

It was represented at the high court by David Elvin QC, a leading counsel on planning law, and Sutton hired the services of Saira Kabir Sheikh QC, instructed by DAC Beachcroft and Sharpe Pritchard.

Mr Khan's legal team, led by barrister Justine Thornton instructed by Deighton Pierce Glynn, was comparatively small.

He has since switched solicitors and the new firm, Richard Buxton, are negotiating a protective costs order for the appeal with the defence.

Asked about the sum spent so far by Sutton, Mr Khan said: "I guess its is for the council to decide what is an appropriate level of expenditure."

He said he continued to receive public donations which had picked up after MP Derek Twigg called for Viridor's Runcorn incinerator to be shut down when chemical leaks left workers in hospital.

"Having the decision reversed in the Court of Appeal is entirely possible," said Mr Khan.

He is appealing on the first ground laid out in the judicial review, namely that the council breached planning guidelines which stated the site - Beddington Farmlands on the border of Croydon and Sutton - would become part of Wandle Valley Regional Park in 2023.

The incinerator would replace an existing landfill site, burning 275,000 tonnes of rubbish each year under partnership between Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston councils. 

Sutton Council has spent £70,000 and counting on incinerator court battle


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