Although the first batch of waste has already been sent to the Beddington incinerator, it could be January before it is fully up and running.

The South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) joint committee met at Merton Civic Centre on Tuesday (December 4). 

The committee is made up of representatives of Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston councils.

The meeting heard that checks are currently being carried out on the £205 million facility run by Viridor, which  was set to be fully operational in August.

The energy recovery facility (ERF) will be burn up to 275,000 tonnes of waste that cannot be recycled, at the same time creating energy to run the facility.

In July, the first batch of waste from the four boroughs was diverted from the Beddington landfill site to a waste bunker at the incinerator.

At Thursday’s meeting, SLWP contract manager Andrea Keys said: “We are going through the commissioning process and that is a series of takeover tests that will look at each individual element of the ERF.

“At the moment we are looking still towards the end of this year I think it slipped by a couple of weeks in terms of the commissioning process and it may have moved into early January dependent on how we progress in the next couple of weeks.”

But Croydon Council’s cabinet member for environment, transport and regeneration asked why progress was not happening as expected.

He said: “I am slightly concerned that we aren’t seeing progress in line with expectations. The original go-live was August, then it was pushed back to October, and now we’re in December.

“We’re currently in the commissioning stage and we’ve got the takeover stage. It all sounds a lot like drift to me.”

In the commissioning phase, all components of the ERF are switched on and tested to see whether they meet emission standards.

Strategic partnership manager Annie Baker said the delay was down to engineers Lagan Construction “going bust”.

“That has created extra work that was necessary to redo some of the work with the drainage and other elements of the site,” said Ms Baker. 

“In terms of what we’re seeing, we’re absolutely satisfied that those works are being undertaken and that the commissioning testing is ongoing and being followed robustly.

“We can’t be certain that either the end of December date will be met or any other specific date will be met because clearly, if there are any issues thrown up in the remaining tests, we will expect that to have an impact on the final date.”

She stressed that the process was not “drifting” – rather it was ongoing.

After the meeting the meeting, a spokesman for Viridor said: “The ERF is ramping up its operations with the steam turbine now generating electricity.

“Last month we successfully exported the first electricity to the grid and once fully operational the ERF will transform waste into enough electricity to power around 30,000 homes.”