Questions over the relationship between incinerator behemoth Viridor and Sutton Liberal Democrats erupted again after a local party member was appointed to the waste giant’s charity arm to dish out about £1m for community projects.

The appointment of Councillor Pathumal Ali, ward councillor for Beddington North, the area worst affected by Viridor’s incinerator, has led to accusations of conflicts of interest by those who have opposed the billion pound waste-burning project.

It follows a previous donation of £250,000 to a nearby church that has had long-standing connections with the party.

Cllr Ali said it was a “great pleasure” to sit on Viridor’s ‘Community Benefit Fund’, which will award £975,000 to community projects in Sutton, Merton, Kingston and Croydon.

The four boroughs form the South London Waste Partnership, which commissioned Viridor’s Beddington incinerator.

A council spokesman said: "There is no inherent conflict in being chair of the scrutiny committee and helping award funds as a panel member of the Beddington community benefit scheme.

“As a member of scrutiny committee Councillor Ali cannot scrutinise decisions she took part in and if this situation arose she would need to withdraw herself from the committee."

However in an internal email seen by the Sutton Guardian the executive head of customers commissioning and governance at Sutton Council, Jessica Crowe, said conflicts of interest might arise from Cllr Ali’s position.

She said in an email to a councillor that “Members should not scrutinise decisions that they have made in another capacity. So if there was a specific scrutiny review of the activities of the community benefit funding panel, that would be a conflict of interest and Cllr Ali would need to declare that and not take part in that review.”

She added: “More generally, if there were discussions at scrutiny about waste and recycling, or Viridor, or Beddington development policy, there might be a case for Cllr Ali to declare her role and depending on the detail of the discussions she might want to declare and withdraw from that discussion.”

Cllr Ali argued there is no conflict of interests between the two positions, but said she would withdraw from the scrutiny committee if it looked into decisions she took part in.

Councillor Tim Crowley, leader of the Conservative opposition, contended Cllr Ali’s position as chairwoman of the council’s scrutiny committee did indeed represent a conflict of interest.

Independent Beddington North councillor Nick Mattey echoed this, explaining that if Viridor lodged further planning applications for the incinerator – already Sutton’s largest-ever civil engineering project – this would fall under the remit of the scrutiny committee.

Cllr Mattey said: “If Viridor put in another planning request, how can she be impartial?”

The total Viridor community fund, under a section 106 agreement, is £975,000 over the 25-year term of the contract.

The incinerator was approved amid much controversy in 2013 by Sutton Council and work has still to begin as campaigners Stop the Incinerator have battled the authority through the courts.

According to information obtained by the former Green Party candidate for Sutton and Cheam, Maeve Tomlinson, more than 650 lorries could arrive at the incinerator each day.

Cllr Crowley also questioned why Cllr Ali, as a Beddington North councillor, did not do more to stop approval for the construction of the incinerator, yet took a position on the community grand fund panel.

He said: “Also an issue is she is part of a party which agreed to allow the incinerator to be built in the back gardens of the residents down there.

“She’s a ward councillor there, and she didn’t stick up for them – or at least if she did it was very quietly. That’s just my view of Cllr Ali.”

Cllr Ali said: “My objection to the Viridor ERF is on record at the planning committee where I spoke as both a resident and a councillor. My views remain unchanged.

"Unlike the environmental Viridor tax credits, the funding will support communities living near the site.

“There is a financial cap on the total funding awarded to projects and local community groups within the catchment area. Being a member of the panel will ensure transparency and openness.”