It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger. I congratulate Mrs Hodgson on securing the debate so quickly after we last chatted about this issue. It is good to see so many familiar faces from the previous debate.
Members present at that debate will remember that I brought up the Beddington incinerator in my constituency, and I will give an overview of what it is like to live in the shadow of one of these things. I spoke about the harm it does to my constituents in Carshalton and Wallington and about my campaign to improve air quality monitoring near the site, both to prevent operators from regulating their emissions and to take into account the effect on local roads, congestion and air pollution of taking the waste from four London boroughs into that one site.
In this debate and the previous one, Members from all parties spoke of their concerns about what might happen to their constituents if incinerators are granted approval in their patches. I am sad to report that our previous debate was met—as I am sure this one will be—with scorn by my local Lib Dem-run council. Just to recount some of what has been said to me since the last debate, I have been told that we surely understand that there is no alternative to incineration; that Members attending these debates prefer landfill; that we do not recognise the benefits of district energy schemes—not the least of which is to lock residents into energy prices at least three times higher than the market average; and that none of us understand that incinerators are not nearly as bad as we have made out. That is the gist of the stories and labels that have been thrown at me since we last discussed this matter. However, I have not heard a single Member today—or ever—say that landfill is any better. None of us is saying that. Many have pointed out that incineration is considered only slightly better than landfill. In many cases, incinerators are worse—particularly when they burn plastics. That point has been powerfully made today.
Something the council should find sobering is the fact that the emissions figures for January 2020 have just been released, and they demonstrate how out of touch it has been on the issue over the years.