Over Easter the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy took the decision to approve development of a second mass waste incinerator at Belvedere. Jon Cruddas MP who launched a campaign against the proposals back in 2018, making official representations and raising a petition of over 2000 local signatories has said: “we knew going into this fight that waste incineration has more than doubled under the Tories, it was always going to be an uphill struggle.”

Early in the campaign Jon Cruddas highlighted that waste incineration doesn’t have to be a bad means of energy production, as it is a low carbon process which disposes of plastic when it can no longer be recycled. However, the current Riverside Energy Plant produces ten times more harmful emissions than other facilities considered as best practice. 

Records highlight that in 2017 the plant at Belvedere produced the second highest concentration of harmful emissions anywhere in the country, and since then every analysis has shown that Rainham and South Hornchurch are taking the brunt of this due to the prevailing wind direction.

Jon explained: “the waste incineration directives on maximum output are calculated all wrong and Cory are taking advantage of the loopholes. An individual facility isn’t allowed to produce more than 200 milligrams per cubic metre of Nitrous Oxide but, if you have two facilities that produce 170 and 120 next to each other it is perfectly legal. That’s what we have here, and it means my constituency takes a double hit of air pollution.”

In an earlier contribution to the examination an analysis by the Greater London Authority explained that incineration of solid waste can lead to emissions of toxic heavy metals and other substances that are detrimental to human health and biodiversity. Based on output projections these impacts would be widespread across the Rainham area.

The Secretary of State’s letter outlines that: “The overall conclusion is that that the impacts of the Development on air quality as it affects human health and environmental receptors is acceptable.”

Jon added: “the fight isn’t over. We now have six weeks to challenge the decision and I will be seeking advice from the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. I will also be speaking with legal professionals to see what routes might be available to us.”