More than two years after planning permission was granted, and following a protracted legal battle that went to the High Court, construction on an incinerator designed to burn 302,000 tonnes of rubbish a year is set to begin.

Viridor, the company awarded the contract to deal with waste from Sutton, Croydon, Merton and Kingston under the South London Waste Partnership (SWLP) formally issued the Notice to Proceed (NTP) for the start of construction of the £200m plant at Beddington Lane on June 12.

Work will begin in July. The plans have been a source of huge controversy, particularly since receiving planning permission, firstly from Sutton Council in May 2013, and then from the Mayor of London and the Government later that year.

More than 200 letters of objection and several petitions, including one gathered by Croydon Labour Party, then in opposition, were handed to Sutton Council over the plan.

Council leader Tony Newman said his party had objected to the ‘secretive’ nature of the process, but as the project had been passed in a borough outside his jurisdiction, his focus now was ‘to get the best possible deal for the people of Croydon’.

He added that leaving the South London Waste Partnership over the proposal would leave Croydon Council with serious issues in terms of dealing with its waste.

Campaign group Stop the Incinerator took Sutton Council to the High Court over the granting of the permission, with its final appeal defeated in April this year.

Protesters outside the Court of Appeal earlier this year

Paul Pickering, part of the campaign team, still holds hopes the plan can be delayed.

He said: “It was seven years ago that I was first advised that the likely outcome of the 2008 South London Waste Plan consultation was to build an incinerator.

“I recall meeting with Emma Smyth, who was at the time the South London Waste Partnership project manager, in the summer of 2008 to discuss the real intention of the consultation. So personally it has been a long battle.

“Unsurprisingly Viridor wants to start the construction as quickly as possible because in the eyes of local residents it brings a finality to the challenge even though there are number of unresolved matters.

“There are ongoing complaints about Viridor being let ‘off the hook’ in complying with crucial habitat agreements for the nature reserve.”

He added he was receiving advice about taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The plant, called an energy recovery facility (ERF) by Viridor and SWLP will comprise a main building 42m in height, with a chimney 100m tall, similar in height to the nearby towers at Ikea in the Valley Park retail complex.

A waste transfer station, a workshop and a building, housing an education centre, combined heat and power equipment and administrative facilities will also be constructed.

It is being built at a site used as landfill since the 90s but was set to become part of a huge regional park in 2023. Despite this, and the fact the land is Metropolitan Open Land, which carries status similar to green belt, the plan was approved.

The site has been managing waste since the 90s

The proposal will consolidate waste management on about 3 hectares of the 7.4 hectare area, and the remainder would be restored to open land use.

In Viridor's initial application it stated this restoration will be done by 2023, while the incinerator was hoped to be up and running in 2017 – landfill ceasing in 2018.

A new access road is being built from Coomber Way roundabout and during peak construction the site will see 770 lorry movements a day, up from 732 that were recorded as the average in 2013.

The company has stated once the facility is running this number will be 666, and lorry movements will be scheduled between 7am and 8pm Monday to Friday, 7am to 6pm on Saturday.

A Sutton Council spokesman said arrangements are being put in place to make sure additional traffic during construction will use Coomber Way. This will be enforced using GPS and CCTV and it is hoped willl reduce traffic on Hilliers Lane.

Two pipelines will be built to deliver heat to customers, while Viridor expects the plant to produce 26 megawatts – enough power for around 30,000 homes.

The deal is expected to save the SLWP about £200m over 25 years, and lead to a reduction of 60,000 tonnes per annum of CO2 emissions that come from landfill.

Viridor also expect the plant to create 40 permanent jobs and plans to hold a meeting shortly with local contractors over the work.

Alan Cumming, Viridor Capital Projects and Engineering Director said: “The construction of Beddington ERF will deliver much-needed social infrastructure, using leading-edge technology to transform waste into vital energy for South London.

“Viridor and its partners are set to deliver a world-class facility for the South London Waste Partnership. We remain committed to providing clear information on the project, and will be in contact with local residents and wider stakeholders throughout the construction and operational phases.”

As part of the planning application Viridor will provide close to £2m in grants to the community as well as £40,000 a year to provide a warden for the new wetlands area.

The community fund includes a lump sum of £350,000, 25 annual payments of £25,000, £40,500 on sustainable transport initiatives, £35,000 for off site planting, £100,000 for the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) working group and £35,000 for an air quality monitoring station.

A spokesman for the company said details would be announced soon about how organisations can apply for these grants, while a newsletter is being prepared to be posted to surrounding areas with full details of the work.