A judicial review opened today into plans to build an incinerator on the Sutton/Croydon border.

Protestors fighting the Viridor led scheme at Beddington Lane converged on the Royal Courts of Justice in central London this morning for the hearing, which is expected to last two days.

Speaking on behalf of anti-incinerator campaigners was Ed Miliband’s wife solicitor Justine Thornton.

Campaigners have questioned the relationship between waste company Viridor and the South London Waste Partnership, made up of Sutton, Croydon, Kingston and Merton councils.

Ms Thornton told the court that it was "striking" that Sutton did not think the site should be used as an incinerator beyond 2023 prior to the signing of the contract with Viridor in November 2013.

The court heard that the site is part of the London Plan and is to be returned as open space as part of the Wandle Valley Regional Park.

Yet in granting permission for the incinerator this was not how Sutton is treating it.

This despite discussions between senior Sutton planning officer Jim Redwood and the Mayor of London's Office about the site's return to metropolitan open space and a repeated commitment to return the land to public use by 2023.

Ms Thornton told the court Sutton Council claimed the site was needed for the exceptional circumstances of maximising cutting down on waste going straight to landfill and meeting targets set by the UK and EU.

Ms Thompson said in 2010 Defra cut its £220m funding to the South London Waste Partnership, as it was felt an incinerator in the area was not needed to hit the targets.

She said the only reason for the exceptional circumstances for permitting the planning application was not because of the need to cut landfill to hit EU targets, as these were being met, but in the urgency created by signing a contract with Viridor which stipulated an incinerator on the site by 2017.

The South London Waste Partnership plan identified three sites where waste could be processed. These sites had no outstanding stipulations on them about returning to public ownership and were all owned by councils.

Mrs Thornton said: "Why did Viridor need to do a very comprehensive assessment of 150 sites that could be up and running by 2017.

“The correct question is why is 2017 key? Is it key because of waste terms or is it key in contractual terms?

"We say it is the latter.

"You see between May 12 and April 14 there was a fundamental 180 degree reverse in Sutton's position."

"This was when the contract was signed."

Counsel for Sutton Council is expected to lay out its defence later today and tomorrow.