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New threat to key London nature reserve

Alice Roberts
By Alice Roberts
26th October 2023

Local wildlife lovers are furious that an incinerator operator wants to expand onto Crossness Nature Reserve

The waste management company Cory, who own and run the incinerator next to land adjacent to the nature reserve, want to expand and build over the green space and install a ‘carbon capture’ plant. They say this will capture carbon so it isn’t released into the atmosphere.

But furious residents say this is an untested technology and the new plant will concrete over six acres of valuable grazing marshland habitat and stables visited by migrant birds such as wheatear and whinchat, as well as locally breeding barn owl & kestrel. The reserve and grazing lands are home to an extraordinary array of wildlife and an important local site to visit which gives many people a place to encounter nature at its best. Local wildlife lovers post pictures of the astonishing array of birds and other animals on their Facebook Page almost every day.

They are also at pains to point out that the carbon capture plant is not needed and there are much better ways to reduce the carbon footprint of waste management in London, like reducing, reusing and recycling more waste.

CPRE London is supporting local group the Friends of Crossness and Erith Marshes and Crossness Nature Reserve. Alice Roberts of CPRE London said: “Just as we come to terms with the threat to nearby Crayford Marshes, part of which has been bought by Berkeley Homes with a view to using it for development, we find out the incredible nature reserve at Crossness is also under serious threat from disappearing forever. Where is our wildlife going to live? This site is literally irreplaceable. There is almost nothing left of the natural riverside in London. What remains is rightfully protected and should remain so.

“Carbon capture is a new technology and the benefits are far from established. In any event, there are much better ways to decarbonise waste management. The fact is, we should be reducing the carbon impact of waste management in other ways – further up the ‘waste hierarchy’. London has the lowest recycling rate in the country, so there is ample opportunity – and much better ways environmentally – to reduce the overall carbon impact of waste management in London.”

CPRE London has previously called for action on London’s embarrassing recycling record.

Environmentalists have grave concerns about building ‘end of pipe’ solutions. Friends of the Earth have said that carbon capture won’t limit the damage of incineration, it will make it worse.

More on why the role of ‘carbon capture’ in decarbonising waste management is challenged – here.

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A wheatear is a spring and autumn migrant visitor to the stables area of Crossness grazing marshland which will be lost to this development