A decision on whether to build a controversial incinerator for the area's rubbish has been deferred after councillors tied a vote.

Sutton Council's development control committee met to decide on whether waste management company Viridor should be able to build an energy recovery facility (ERF) in Beddington Lane to burn rubbish from four borough's and convert it into energy.

The panel heard arguments for and against the proposal and in the end the vote was evenly split with three councillors voting in favour of the plan - Liberal Democrats Mary Burstow, Stanley Theed and John Leech - and three councillors voting against - Conservatives Graham Whitham and Eric Allen and Lib Dem Stephen Fenwick. Lib Dems Monica Coleman and Margaret Court abstained and it was Coun Coleman who suggested the motion be deferred so more information can be gathered.

Campaigners cheered the outcome although it means the application will have to be heard again at a later date. 

Speaking after the meeting, Stop the Incinerator Campaigner Shasha Khan said: "I was under the impression the rumours were the councillors were going to approve it so I think the deferral is a recognition of our efforts.

"So many people spoke so powerfully and with such emotion and passion. This coupled with the sheer volume of noise from public gallery, may have had an impact.

"I think that, along with all our campaigning over the years, meant they were just too uncomfortable to sit there and put it through.

"The more you find out about these plans the more you see its flaws and the dangers to human health and the environment that is poses."

The South London waste Partnership, made up of Sutton, Croydon, Kingston and Merton councils, has contracted Viridor to dispose of its waste. Viridor wants to do this by building the ERF on part of the Beddington lane landfill site, which would be filled in and made into a park under the proposals.

Sutton councillors sat on Wednesday night to decide on the plans
During a lengthy meeting at Sutton Library, the panel heard representations from 10 speakers, all of whom made points against the plans, as well as Viridor and its own officers who backed the plans and recommended they give planning permission.

But when the vote tied, chairman of the committee John Leech, who had initially voted in favour of granting planning permission, opted not to use his deciding vote meaning a motion to defer the decision was accepted.

No date has been set for the next meeting.

Explaining the decision to defer, a spokesperson for the council said:

"Sutton is proud of its reputation as a green borough, and this decision is of major importance to the region, so in some ways it shouldn’t be surprising that councillors want to forensically examine every line of detail on air quality and traffic issues before they make a decision. 

"The committee heard a range of speakers and evidence for and against the proposal.  It’s important that these issues are aired in public and given serious consideration so an objective, evidence based decision can be properly made."