Plans to build a controversial incinerator for the area's rubbish have been given the all-clear by the Mayor of London.
London Mayor Boris Johnson left it to his deputy Sir Edward Lister to make the decision on plans to build the energy recovery facility in Beddington Lane.
The plans, that involve building on land set aside as green space, were backed by the Mayor's office this afternoon.
Now the plans will have to get final clearance from the Government before the project can go-ahead.
Sutton Council has granted planning permission for waste management firm Viridor to build the facility, which will take up to 302,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste from Sutton, Croydon, Merton and Kingston every year and burn it to create energy that should be distributed to neighbouring homes in the form of heat and electricity.
But because the plans involve building on land set aside as green space, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson had to back them in order for the project to go-ahead. As Mr Johnson is away on leave, the final say was left to his deputy Sir Edward Lister who announced the decision this afternoon.
He said: “The borough council and the applicant have taken steps to ensure the scheme meets the requirements of the London Plan and having carefully considered the merits of this application against every possible concern I have concluded there are no sound reasons for the Mayor to overturn the borough’s decision.”
Environmental campaigners and rival politicians have criticised the decision on the grounds they believe it will affect people's health.
Shasha Khan, of campaign group Stop the Incinerator, said: "I'm disappointed. We had some valid reasons and strong reasons, as set out to Boris Johnson by our legal team, for rejection but they have been ignored.
"We have pre-empted the decision and we've had discussions with our legal team about going down the route of a judicial review.
"This will affect the health of tens of thousands of people and for this decision to be made while Boris Johnson is away just displays the arrogance of the political elite."
Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones added: "The Mayor’s decision is an environmental disaster for south London and the recycling and composting industry.
"The Mayor has failed to observe his own planning and waste policies which state that incineration is the least desirable form of waste management.
"Instead he has put the interests of big business first, before legitimate environmental concerns and the interests of local residents that will be affected by his decision."
Now the plans will have to go before Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, before any building can begin.
Ian John, head of planning at Viridor, said: "Today’s decision builds on the approval of the London Borough of Sutton and is another important step towards achieving planning permission and the delivery of next generation infrastructure for South London.
"Working in tandem with waste reduction, reuse, and enhanced recycling, Viridor’s Beddington ERF will play an important role in diverting waste from landfill, recovering renewable energy from what remains.
"Operating to the highest national and international standards, the facility will deliver real environmental, economic, social and community benefits.”