Councils Objecting to Expansion at Beddington Incinerator

Facility wants to increase the amount of waste it can burn

The Beddington Incinerator
The Beddington Incinerator. Picture: Viridor

November 15, 2022

Councils across South London including Merton have hit out at plans to burn thousands more tonnes of rubbish a year at the Beddington incinerator. There are fears it could lead to more lorries through residential roads and increases in emissions.

Viridor, which runs the facility, has applied to the Environment Agency for a permit to burn more waste. It wants to increase capacity by 34,864 tonnes to 382,286 tonnes a year.

Public consultation on the plans opened last week and will close on 23 December.

The incinerator, also called the Energy Recovery Facility (ERF), burns rubbish which would otherwise go to landfill. The process produces energy which powers the facility and supplies the rest to the National Grid.

Merton Council has made it clear it will object to the plans. It also set to submit a joint response to the proposal with Kingston, Sutton and Croydon councils. The four councils make up the South London Waste Partnership which is served by the incinerator.

Councillor Natasha Irons, Merton Council’s cabinet member for the environment, green spaces and climate change said: “Increasing the amount of waste dealt with at the Beddington site would not only add to existing traffic problems caused by the HGVs coming through residential roads, but it could also make it much harder to manage any exceedances of emissions.”

Merton’s position follows the Sutton Council, which came out against the proposal back in January. At the time, it said the application would increase congestion in the local area.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said, “An environmental permit sets out stringent conditions that all waste sites must adhere to. We will not issue an environmental permit for a site if we consider that activities taking place
will cause significant pollution to the environment or harm to human health.

“Public consultation lets people and organisations take part in our decision-making. We welcome specifically, comments on environmental and health issues and where people have particular local knowledge. When making permit decisions, we use information on the potential environmental and human health impacts of the activity.”

A spokesperson for Viridor said the changes would not have “negative impacts” on the environment or efficiency of the plant.

They added: “As a region the South East and greater London area continues to see an increase in residual waste volumes with large quantities either being exported to European ERF’s or directed to UK landfill. If approved this variation will enable waste to move higher up the waste hierarchy by diverting it away from landfill, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and produces electricity.”

The consultation can be found here.

Tara O'Connor - Local Democracy Reporter