South London Waste Partnership

A View from St Georges Tooting A marks the Viridor Incinerator B marks St Helier – which of the three does not care for people’s health?

Viridor and Veolia with the South London Waste Partnership

As a long term resident of the Borough, I was appalled when the London Borough of Sutton reneged on the promise to create a Country Park adjoining Beddington Park at the termination of the landfill contract.

It would be wrong to comment on the process of planning approval for an incinerator and the contracts with a commercial partner like Viridor aside from a personal perspective that when politicians and corporate bodies create partnerships, those partnerships should not only be untainted but be seen to be untainted. Clearly there have been questions and it is disappointing that questions remain unanswered about personal relationships, donations and the environmental impact on both people local to Beddington but across three Boroughs.

However, what is undeniable is that the London Borough of Sutton has abrogated responsibilities for access to the Wetlands with a Viridor committee currently chaired by a Lib Dem Councillor, with another Lib Dem Councillor as Vice Chair. The activities and reports of this committee being published not by the London Borough of Sutton but by Viridor, their commercial partner.

And that same lack of control is apparent in the contract execution by Veolia – we as residents and even our local Councillors are denied sight of the terms of that contract but what we can see is the deterioration of our streets with uncollected rubbish and fly tipping endemic.

A too common site in Sutton

It is pointless for any political party to trumpet instant solutions, like Labour with their idea to bring the waste collectors back into Council employment – and it is not the Council fly tipping or creating the waste.

We the residents have a responsibility – the much praised increase in recycling in the Borough is not down to the Council or Veolia – it is the hard work of the residents making what is a flawed system better than it deserves to be.

And there lies the future – our pride in making our environment better and pride from the workforce. When we put our bins out in an orderly way, we can be certain that the bins, boxes and caddies will be scattered and a trail of litter will be following the bin lorry up the road like seagulls following a farmer ploughing a field.

Veolia’s team should put pride into what they do – Lonnie Donegan’s hit of the ‘50’s “My Old Man’s a Dustman” was comical but his old man had pride

But at the heart of all of this is the South London Waste Partnership – who decided that the only location for the Incinerator was Sutton? What is the benefit of this grouping – do representatives elected by other Boroughs care about us – are they accountable?

There needs to be a root and branch review of the whole process and changes made if necessary – better we pay a price for things now than leave a tainted and poisonous legacy for our children.

Leonie Cooper AM, Chair of the Environment Committee, London Assembly:“We have got to get a grip on the amount of waste being sent to incineration………..
Incineration can no longer be relied upon to manage our waste effectively……this should really be an option of last resort.”