Crossness wildlife at risk if incinerator is allowed
PUBLISHED: 09:32 01 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:32 01 April 2019
A wildlife haven dubbed a "hidden gem" in Belvedere is in danger of losing rare animals should plans for a new incinerator next door be given the go-ahead.
Cory Riverside Energy has submitted plans to the government to add a plant to its current site close to Crossness Nature Reserve – coming under fire from wildlife enthusiasts and local councillors.
Environmental campaigners using the acres of green belt land say adding another huge incinerator will drive the rare wildlife across the river, ruining a “hidden jewel” and one of London’s few nature reserves.
Visitors can see rare bats and birds which flock to the green space on the banks of the Thames, which last year was greeted by an extremely rare sighting of the penduline tit.
Campaigners say adding another plant, which would be even closer to Cory’s boundary on the site, would drive birds like the red kite, buzzard, marsh harrier or barn owl away from the habitat.
Meanwhile, Julia Rodriguez, the deputy mayor of London for environment, told this reporter as she visited the site that a new plant could hit the borough’s recycling rates, dubbing it “redundant”.
Cory’s incinerators take waste from across London, not just Bexley, and burn it at high temperatures to generate energy.
Ms Rodriguez said: “We share the concerns of the local community. The mayor has made it really clear that he doesn’t we think we need another incinerator in London. We have many already, another one is already being planned in Sutton.
“The mayor has really tough targets for recycling waste, the government has tough targets on recycling waste and we know people want to recycle more.
“We don’t need another incinerator bringing waste into London to be burnt. There’s no use for the heat, so it’s a bit of a redundant facility.
“This is a hidden gem, a beautiful nature reserve loved by people. They come from far and wide and we want people to carry on enjoying that – we understand the design of the incinerator will likely have an impact on the habitats.”
Campaigners and MP for Rainham Jon Cruddas have expressed fear the fumes emitted from the new incinerator will have a damaging health effect.
Belvedere councillor Dave Putson said: “The biggest problem I’ve got is that although they’re doing good work on controlling the output from the chimney we still don’t know what the health outcomes are for people.
“We don’t want big industrial encroachments on what is green belt land. We just don’t want it. We need a nature reserve, it’s one of the last in London and we need to have it. We don’t want an additional building on this site because once you have one you get more and more.”
MPs Teresa Pearce and Sir David Evennett have objected to the application, which is set to be decided in June.
Cory says it will provide up to 30 megawatts of “affordable energy” to houses in the area, and offer up to 6,000 jobs on the new site during construction and a further 100 once it is up and running.
Nicholas Pollard, CEO of Cory Riverside Energy, said Londoners deserve modern solutions over waste disposal.
He said: “London is facing a waste capacity crisis with over two million tonnes of non-recyclable waste being sent to landfill or shipped overseas, and even after the forecast substantial increase in recycling. London’s steady growth means that non-recyclable waste volumes are set to rise significantly and will require disposal.
“We will not have any detrimental effect on recycling rates, or the recycling targets set by the London mayor or national government. Bexley, where we currently operate, has one of the highest recycling rates of any London borough.
“We’re proud to have been based here since our current facility began operations in 2011, and are carrying out an extensive consultation process with the local community, which includes an assessment of our impact on air quality and local wildlife.”