Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas calls for legal challenge against Belvedere incinerator approval

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas visited a waste incinerator in Belvedere, Bexley to discuss Cory

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

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas has called for a judicial review into the government’s decision to approve a waste incinerator across the river in Belvedere.

The Recorder reported last week that controversial plans for the Riverside Energy Park had been given the green light by business secretary Alok Sharma.

The application, by Cory Riverside Energy, was for a new incinerator next to the current Riverside waste incinerator.

Mr Cruddas has been campaigning against the proposals since they were first submitted in 2018 and gathered a petition of 2,000 signatures opposing them.

The Labour politician, along with Erith and Thamesmead MP Abena Oppong-Asare, has written to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan calling on him to consider launching a judicial review against the decision.

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In the letter, the MPs write: “It is our worry as representatives that during the current global crisis this decision will be overlooked - despite the implications for our constituents.”

Mr Sharma was appointed to his business secretary post in mid-February and Mr Cruddas and Ms Oppong-Asare say the “extent of deliberation” is a basis on which to challenge the decision.

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“In mid-March we were plunged into a national crisis meaning that the plans were only reviewed for approximately one month by the final decision maker. Due to this lack of scrutiny, we feel that the decision lacks credibility.”

The MPs also say there are grounds to challenge the approval surrounding public health, air quality and environmental concerns.

As reported by the Recorder, Mr Cruddas claimed in his May 2019 submission to the Planning Inspectorate that 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.

Mr Cruddas and Ms Oppong-Asare write that Rainham and South Hornchurch will be “hit by the brunt” of the emissions due to the prevailing wind direction.

Planning legislation gives a six-week period in which the decision can be challenged through the courts.

Mr Cruddas said: “The only option left to oppose this development is by legal challenge, so we are urging the mayor to launch a judicial review into the decision based on a number of factors.

“At a time of national crisis when respiratory health is a priority, it beggars belief that the government have approved this.”

A spokeswoman for the Mayor of London said Mr Khan has been clear that there is no need for more waste incinerators in the capital, adding that he called on the government to refuse the Riverside Energy Park application.

She said: “The secretary of state’s decision to approve the application for the Cory incinerator is extremely disappointing. The mayor’s team provided evidence and representations through the examination process to demonstrate that this facility is not needed to manage London’s waste and will have a detrimental impact on recycling, climate change and air quality.

“Officers will now review the detail of the decision and we will comment further once we have fully assessed the details.”

Cory’s strategic infrastructure development director, Andy Pike, said the Planning Inspectorate examined the company’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.

“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.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy did not specifically respond to the points made by Mr Cruddas and Ms Oppong-Asare when approached by the Recorder.

The letter notifying Mr Sharma’s approval said he agreed with planning inspector Jonathan Green’s conclusion that the development’s air quality impact on people’s health and environmental receptors is “acceptable”.

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