London mayor to fight incinerator

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone is to mount a legal challenge to prevent the construction of an incinerator next to the River Thames, arguing that it could scupper efforts to recycle London's waste.

The borough council has also said it will apply for a judicial review of the decision to approve the plan, taken by the Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks.

Riverside Resource Recovery wants to build the incinerator at a site in Belvedere, Bexley. Wicks gave the controversial plan the go ahead in June (see related story) in the face of massive opposition from local residents and environmentalists.

If it is built, the Belvedere incinerator will burn waste for energy for 30 years. It would be the biggest in the UK, and one of the biggest in Europe, and would have the capacity to generate up to 72 megawatts of electricity.

Livingstone said that allowing the incinerator to be built would undermine the battle against climate change: “Thousands of tonnes of London’s rubbish, which could be recycled or turned into renewable gas will instead be burnt. Climate change is at the top of my agenda and an incinerator is a backward step in the battle to cut emissions and increase recycling.”

He argued that the decision undermines the government’s commitment to recycling, and means that “councils who fail to recycle waste can simply burn it instead”.

“Unless the government reviews its position, London will be surrounded by a ring of fire, as boroughs opt only for burning over recycling and new energy from waste technologies,” he said.

But the Energy Minister insists that the incinerator is necessary. In a written statement, Wicks said: “This energy from waste station will be fuelled by waste which would otherwise have to go to landfill…Even if London were to meet the ambitious recycling targets envisaged by the Mayor for London there will still be ample residual waste to fuel the station.”

Gretchen Hendriks

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