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Rainham and Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas expresses concerns planning application for large waste incinerator will impact air quality

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:13 15 November 2018

Riverside Energy Park, illustrative view. Photo: Cory Riverside Energy

Riverside Energy Park, illustrative view. Photo: Cory Riverside Energy

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Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas expressed concerns that an energy park in Bexley will lead to “toxic fumes” billowing across the Thames to the Rainham and Beam Park development area.

Cory Riverside Energy (CRE) has submitted an application to the planning inspectorate to build a Riverside Energy park in Belvedere.

The plans for an integrated energy generation park would comprise of a range of technologies including waste energy recovery, solar panels and battery storage.

Mr Cruddas is opposing the plans as he believes they will have a severe impact on air quality in Rainham and Beam Park area.

He said: “Incineration is the least environmentally friendly form of waste disposal after landfill, and the energy produced by this scheme if approved is not enough to justify the negative impact it would have on the London Riverside Opportunity areas.

“Over the last five years recycling rates have stalled across the UK whilst government approved waste incineration has doubled.”

Cory expects that the facility will produce 96 megawatts of low carbon renewable electricity at peak times, which taken together with the permitted capacity of 72 MW from the existing Riverside Energy Recovery Facility site is the equivalent of powering around 300,000 homes across London.

Construction is targeted to begin in 2021 and the Energy park is expected to be fully operational by 2024.

Due to the scale of the proposal the final decision will be taken by the secretary of state.

MP for Dagenham and Rainham, Jon Cruddas is opposing the plans for a Riverside Energy Park to be built in Bexley, due to concerns over the impact on air quality in Rainham. Picture: parliamentlivetvMP for Dagenham and Rainham, Jon Cruddas is opposing the plans for a Riverside Energy Park to be built in Bexley, due to concerns over the impact on air quality in Rainham. Picture: parliamentlivetv

“There is a lot of development in the coming years, including nearly 3,000 new homes, two new schools, leisure facilities and open spaces,” said Mr Cruddas.

“I don’t want the quality of life in the south of my constituency to be marred by poor air as a result of a Tory approved waste incineration plant billowing toxic fumes across the Thames.

“Next year when these plans open up I hope that both local authorities in my constituency will join me in opposing the development.

“I will also be writing to the Thames Estuary Commission raising my concerns.”

As part of the pre-application consultation with stakeholders, the Greater London Authority (GLA) responded to the plans in a report.

The main energy generating element of the plans is the Energy Recovery Facility (ERF), which the GLA is not supporting because, “it does not contribute to the circular economy and will likely suppress efforts to achieve recycling targets” which are set out in the London Plan.

The report also noted that in terms of air quality, there would be a risk of significant impact on Rainham town centre and on the biodiversity at the Crossness Nature reserve in Bexley, as well as Ingrebourne and Inner Thames marshes.

Julian Walker, chief operating officer at CRE, explained that they have undertaken an extensive consultation process with residents, businesses, community groups and politicians.

He said: “Our detailed environmental assessment work is helping us to ensure that the new park will operate with minimal impact on the environment – as is the case at our existing facility.

“We will continue to prioritise the protection of the local environment as we finalise our proposals.

“Suggestions that EfW negatively impacts recycling rates are simply wrong.

“Many European countries have driven landfill to zero due to their investment in modern incineration plants of a similar nature to the one we currently operate, with no negative impact on the amount of waste which is recycled.”

In response to Mr Cruddas’ concerns about thermal energy from waste (EfW) plants destroying waste materials in a harmful way, Mr Walker added: “There is clear evidence that, even with significant improvements to recycling rates, there is still a chronic shortfall in capacity for the waste which is left over.

“As well as addressing this capacity gap, the environmental benefits of the new energy park will be significant: it will allow us to divert a further 650,000 tonnes of residual waste away from landfill, creating enough electricity to power 140,000 homes and avoiding an additional c. 130,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.

“It will provide an environmentally responsible solution for treating London’s residual waste that is presently going to landfill or EfW plants on the Continent.”

It is expected that in early 2019 local authorities will be able to respond to the proposals in the pre-examination period.

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