Rainham MP to continue campaign against planned Belvedere waste incinerator after government grants approval

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas visited the existing Riverside waste incinerator in Belvedere, B

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas visited the existing Riverside waste incinerator in Belvedere, Bexley last year to discuss Cory Energy's proposals to build a second waste incinerator. Picture: Andrew Achilleos - Credit: Archant

Controversial plans for a new waste incinerator in Belvedere have been given the go-ahead but MP Jon Cruddas insists “the fight isn’t over”.

The Dagenham and Rainham MP began fighting the Riverside Energy Park proposals in 2018 because he feared the impact of emissions in Havering, on the other side of the Thames.

The planning application was submitted by Cory Riverside Energy in the same year. The proposal was for the new incinerator to be next to the existing Riverside waste incinerator.

Mr Cruddas raised a petition of 2,000 signatures opposing the plans and made official representations to the Planning Inspectorate against the scheme.

In his May 2019 submission to the inspectorate, he said emissions of nitrous oxide (NOx) from the planned Riverside plant, when combined with the existing one, would exceed the European Union’s daily limit for production of the gas.

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The EU directs that NOx production at a single site must not exceed 200 milligrams per cubic metre of air each day, but Mr Cruddas’s submission claimed that the two sites would produce a total of 290 mg of NOx per cubic metre daily if the Riverside plant was approved.

He wrote: “The new facility will be right next to the current one and to suggest that the emissions in the air will be under set levels is disingenuous.”

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Mr Cruddas included in his letter that the current Riverside waste incinerator at Belvedere emits 170mg of NOx per cubic metre each day - the latest Cory data for February this year show the average daily maximum remains around this figure.

He visited the site last year and, in the letter, said that the prevailing wind direction from the plant was towards his constituents in Rainham, South Hornchurch and Dagenham Dock.

Mr Cruddas said: “It means my constituency takes a double hit of air pollution.”

A Cory spokeswoman said the Riverside Energy Park will play a “significant part” in addressing the shortfall in capacity for non-recyclable waste.

The company specifically responded to Mr Cruddas’ submission, saying an air quality assessment included in its environmental statement showed “no likely significant air quality effects are anticipated on human or ecological receptors as a result of the construction, operation or decommissioning of the proposed development, either in isolation or when considered in combination with other planned developments in the area.”

In planning inspector Jonathan Green’s report, Cory also said that the assessment of the air quality impact was based on a “worst case approach”.

It was based on the assumption of operation at 100 per cent capacity all year with an emission concentration of 120mg per cubic metre of NOx - the daily figure Mr Cruddas said the new facility was going to produce.

The EU directs that 120mg of NOx per cubic metre is the maximum level allowed daily for a new facility.

Cory said in the report it had applied for an environmental permit for the new Riverside plant based on an NOx emissions limit of 75mg per cubic metre.

A Cory spokeswoman confirmed this would be the maximum level the new facility could operate at.

Mr Green wrote: “I accept the applicant’s conclusion that the impacts of the proposed development on air quality as it affects human health will not be significant.”

He recommended the approval of plans for the Riverside Energy Park and business secretary Alok Sharma decided to grant consent.

Mr Cruddas said: “The fight isn’t over. We now have six weeks to challenge the decision.”

Cory’s strategic infrastructure development director, Andy Pike, said the Planning Inspectorate examined Cory’s responses to Mr Cruddas. He added: “They found our proposals would have no significant impact in relation to any of the issues he’s raised, so we are incredibly disappointed that he continues to raise concerns that have been rebutted by independent experts.

“Our energy from waste plant at Belvedere has, for more than eight years, operated well within all environmental limits.”

The company would welcome any residents to visit the site and see their operations firsthand.

He added: “Everyone in London wants a clean city and now more than ever air quality is a legitimate concern for everyone who lives here.

“But, done responsibly, energy from waste is a modern, clean and efficient solution to waste management.”

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