Protesters staged a demonstration against the Beddington incinerator yesterday – and even received “thumbs up” from workers on site, according to those taking part.

About 30 campaigners protested outside the entrance to the site where Viridor is building the incinerator in Beddington Lane.

Councillor Nick Mattey, who was expelled from the Liberal Democrats for opposing the incinerator, and Ross Hemingway, Green Party candidate for the Carshalton Central by-election, were among those taking part.

They claim the site will pollute the surrounding area and damage the health of those who live nearby.

The protest was organised to put pressure on Viridor shareholders who will be meeting in Exeter on Friday, July 1.

Campaigner Shasha Khan, who mounted a failed legal challenge against Sutton Council to stop the incinerator, said: “It was interesting to see the faces of the Viridor workers as they came out from the entrance.

“They were giving us the thumbs up as they were coming out, so it would be interesting to know whether they know what damage the incinerator will do and that it will kill people.”

Viridor won the contract for treatment and disposal of residual waste in November 2012 and planning permission was granted in March 2014 to build on the landfill site that had been in use since the 90s.

But the plans to build the incinerator met with fierce opposition from campaigners and the council faced a judicial review of its decision to award planning permission.

Construction began last year after Mr Khan’s challenge was defeated at the high court.

When finished the incinerator will be about 42 metres in height, with a 100m-tall chimney, similar in height to the nearby Ikea towers in the Valley Park retail complex.

Cllr Mattey, independent councillor for Beddington North, said: “If we are serious about halting global warming and improving air quality then we need to stop incinerating. The EU has very low efficiency standards for evaluating incinerators.

“This allows waste companies and councils like Sutton to call these plants ‘energy recovery facilities’ instead of waste incinerators. Following the Brexit vote we have an opportunity to insist on much higher standards which will halt the expansion of the incinerator industry.

“Brexit will hit the profits of incinerator operators hard and force councils to recycle instead.”

A spokesman for the South London Waste Partnership, which selected Viridor to build and run the incinerator, said: "The Beddington Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) will provide local residents with a safe, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable alternative to landfill.  

"The Beddington ERF will be clean and safe, employing a range of systems to treat gases before they are released into the air.  Emissions will be monitored and limits strictly enforced by the Environment Agency."

He added Public Health England have stated that "modern, well-managed incinerators make only a small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants" and were unlikely to have a significant impact on health.

In early June Beddington Farmland nature reserve wildlife warden Peter Alfrey quit his position in protest of Viridor’s alleged failure to protect the site.