How should Merton Council assess planning applications for waste treatment facilities and which sites in the borough are suitable for this type of development?
These are two key questions being asked by the South London Waste Plan Consultation, which continues to run until 16 October.
Residents and businesses of Merton are reminded that a workshop will be held at the Civic Centre, Morden, on Wednesday 9 September (from 7.00pm), giving interested parties the opportunity to have a closer look at the draft Plan, ask any questions they may have and raise any issues they feel are important.
There is pressure on local authorities to substantially reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill for two reasons:
· Environmental: When ‘biodegradable waste’ (such as food, disposable nappies, paper and cardboard) rots in landfill sites, it gives off methane, a powerful greenhouse gas which is very harmful to the environment. Space for landfill sites is also running out.
· Financial: We need to dramatically reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill so that Council Tax does not have to be used to pay the landfill taxes and fines that Central Government is making on all local councils. Increases in Council Tax or service cuts would be the only way that the Council could pay these fines.
Merton Council cabinet member for planning and traffic management Councillor William Brierly explains: “Reducing, reusing and recycling is the first step to diverting waste away from landfill. We are making substantial progress in this area, but no matter how successful we are at recycling and composting, there is always going to be some ‘residual waste’ left over for which disposal is currently the only option. The question is; if we can’t dispose of it by burying it in the ground, what can we do with it?
“But from a planning perspective, the challenge we face is not just about finding space for more sustainable, local alternatives to landfill. There is also the important question of where we should locate the recycling and composting facilities that are going to be needed in the future if we are to continue improving our performance in this important area.”
To answer these big questions, Merton Council has joined forces with the neighbouring boroughs of Croydon, Kingston and Sutton to come up with suitably ambitious solutions.
It is clear that a new approach to treating waste in the region is required, and to make this happen, new waste treatment facilities will have to be built. The South London Waste Plan identifies plots of land that are potentially suitable for such developments over the next 10 years.
The plan currently identifies a long-list of 28 locations across the four boroughs. Not all of the 28 locations will make it on to the final short-list and any proposal for a waste management facility on a particular site will be subject to a stringent planning application process.
Some of these locations are in the London Borough of Merton:
· The existing civic amenity site at Garth Road
· An extension to the existing site at Garth Road covering a larger area of the industrial site
· The existing waste site at Benedict’s Wharf
· An existing waste site within Willow Lane industrial area
· Areas within the Durnsford Road industrial area
· Site at Deer Park Road, within Morden Industrial Area
· Site near Plough Lane, part of the Durnsford Road industrial area
· The Rainbow Park industrial area
· Areas within the Willow Lane industrial area
The consultation gives residents and businesses an opportunity to comment on these sites as well as put forward their own suggestions for alternative locations that they feel should be considered.
In addition to identifying potentially suitable sites, the draft Plan also sets out a robust framework against which any specific applications to build waste treatment facilities will be assessed. Impacts on traffic levels, noise pollution and air quality are just a few of the important issues that need to be considered carefully.
Councillor Brierly explains: “The policies contained within the Plan set out the requirements which all applications for waste management facilities must meet to get planning permission. These policies must be strong enough to ensure future waste facilities deliver the best outcomes for local people and the environment.
“One thing the Plan does make perfectly clear is that any proposed thermal treatment facility must allow for the recovery of energy from the waste and that all four boroughs are firmly against poor-performing, outdated technologies such as old-fashioned mass-burn incineration which is visually-intrusive and releases high levels of noxious emissions.”
Councillor Brierly concludes: “This is a big issue that requires bold solutions. The consultation documents are necessarily detailed. The workshop taking place on the 9 September at the Civic Centre, Morden is the ideal opportunity for residents and businesses to come along and have a chat with people who understand the issues and what is contained in the draft Plan inside out.”
Please get involved now before the South London Waste Plan becomes policy. The consultation runs until 16 October 2009. Your views will help develop the final version of the Plan due to be published in February 2010. It will then be submitted to the Secretary of State for examination by an independent planning inspector.
How can you get involved?
· Attend the public workshop at the Civic Centre, Morden, on 9 September (from 7pm)
· Read the consultation documents, available online at: http://www.merton.gov.uk/wasteplan
· Request a copy of the consultation document by calling 020 8547 5375 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org