It’s widely known that at least 750 homes will be demolished if Heathrow’s third runway goes ahead, but perhaps lesser known is the fate of the incinerator lying in its path.

Lakeside Energy from Waste (EfW), a joint venture between Grundon Waste Management and Viridor, processes non-recyclable waste from more than 12 local authorities including Kingston, Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Richmond.

The EfW facility produces 37MW of low carbon energy, which is enough to provide power for around 56,000 homes, a town roughly the size of Slough.

It will be demolished if the runway goes ahead.

Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith said: “The incinerator will have to be moved if the third runway goes ahead and the cost will be many hundreds of millions of pounds.

“No one will want it in their backyard so the planning process will be complex and lengthy, and in the absence of a replacement, local authorities will be forking out around £50m a year in extra landfill taxes.

“This is yet another huge and unplanned cost associated with Heathrow expansion, a project that is already deeply uneconomic and anticompetitive.”

Heathrow, which said it is “working closely” with the Lakeside plant, has promised to relocate it but has failed to make any commitment to when, how or where.

On February 5, before a transport committee, Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye admitted the issue needed to be dealt with “sooner rather than later”. but gave no further information.

Robert Barnstone, of campaign group No 3rd Runway Coalition, said the estimated cost of relocation is £500million or more than £700million should the plant be forced to close.

He said: “Efforts to find an alternative site have so far not had any success.

“If Heathrow does expand then an application for a new site for the plant, if found, must be made this year in order to meet the timetable by when the airport would require the land that Lakeside currently resides on.

“If the plant closes or its relocation is delayed this will result in an additional 450,000 tonnes of waste being handled by the already creaking waste management network in West London and the surrounding areas.

“The likelihood is that this waste will head to landfill or will need to be exported at huge environmental and financial cost.

“It is also estimated that any delay in providing an alternative site for relocation will result in a significant financial burden being placed on those local authorities that rely on Lakeside estimated to be approximately £50million per annum.”

Lakeside director Richard Skehens said removing the facility and offering no replacement would have a “significant and detrimental economic, environmental and social impact” on the local area and entire region.

When it comes to landfills and incinerators, Friends of the Earth says “neither are great” and encourages waste reduction, re-use and recycling.

However, an incinerator does produce energy.

Sutton, Kingston, Merton and Croydon Councils are all members of the South London Waste Partnership and said a “small proportion” of SLWP’s household waste is processed at the plant, with the remainder going to landfill.

A spokeswoman for SLWP said: “Viridor are nearing completion of a state-of-the-art Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) at Beddington, Sutton.

“The facility will become operational later this year and will turn household waste into energy- enough to power the facility itself plus around 30,000 homes.

“All of the four boroughs’ residual waste will be sent to the Beddington ERF for treatment.

“What happens to the Lakeside facility in the future will not have an impact on the SLWP boroughs.”

There has been fierce opposition to the Beddington Lane incinerator, commissioned by SLWP with £205 million of public money, since Sutton Council granted planning to the in 2014.

A case against the construction of the waste facility went to High Court, but was dismissed in 2015.

Sutton Guardian: Campaigners protesting the Beddington plant in 2016

Richmond Council, which has campaigned against the third runway since its inception, said Heathrow has “once again not factored in the impact of its proposals”.

A spokesman said: “Whilst the majority of Richmond Council’s residual waste is sent to an alternative site, the Lakeside incinerator is still used by the council as a secondary site and its demolition will have an impact on our services and therefore our residents.

“This is just another example of the negative impact the proposed Heathrow expansion will have in this borough and why we have made our position clear that we need to be looking at alternatives to the airport’s expansion.”

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