A controversial scheme to build waste plants in South London is under threat as the Government yesterday announced the withdrawal of £225 million worth of funding.
Croydon is one of four councils contributing to to the South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) scheme. If alternative funding is not found, more that 200,000 tonnes of waste will be deposited into landfill sites.
Cormac Stokes, chairman of the SLWP Management Group, said: “It goes without saying that we are disappointed. What is most regrettable is that the reasons behind the decision have not yet been made clear.”
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says that the funding was cut because the plan does not meet the country’s EU landfill targets.
John Haynes, Communication leader for SLWP said: “PFI credits have been withdrawn and we are still seeking clarification on the reasons for the cut on this project and not on another.”
“We need to find an alternative to landfill, since it is not a good solution for the environment and we cannot afford it.”
“We have to encourage recycling and composting as much as we can. We have a lot of success in that area, even if we are aware that it is not always easy to recycle.”
Spokesman Shasha Khan said that even without the PFI credits, he expects the scheme to go ahead: “The £1bn scheme is still profitable. There will be the need for the contractor to source the waste from outside the four boroughs, since the partnership contract allows it.”
He added: “Once you build it you need to feed the beast”.
An alternative to incineration, continues Khan, would be a ‘fully comprehensive recycle scheme for local people, where everything that is put in a bin can be composted or recycled.’ “At the moment, only a small amount of the waste can be recycled.”
There have been recent debates between the local council and the Green Party regarding waste disposal. Croydon Council recently accused Croydon Green Party of ‘going around frightening people about incinerators.’
Khan said:” It’s the health effects that most concern me. Studies show cancer rates, birth defects, lung and kidney disease all go up.”
If the scheme does still go ahead the new possible candidates for hosting the waste scheme are Factory Lane in Croydon, Viridor, Veolia and WRG, with the final offers to be presented in April 2011. The winner will be announced next July and the new facilities are due to operate from the spring of 2014.