Accusations that Sutton Council is ‘poisoning’ residents have been made during a heated debate on air quality.

The council’s lead officer for pollution control, Dave Trew, updated the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee on a new Air Quality Action Plan which is in its commissioning phase.

But the draft plan was criticised for not including enough about the controversial Beddington incinerator.

The £205 million energy recovery facility (ERF) run by Viridor is now fully operational.

It is able to incinerate up to 275,000 tonnes of residual waste – things that can’t be recycled, reused or composted which creates electricity to power the facility.

An animated councillor Tony Shields said he wants to see more than the current four air quality monitors introduced in the borough as well as independent monitoring of the Viridor facility.

“You must agree that our desires to increase air quality monitors were admirable,” he said.

“How will the 350 tonnes of pollution from the incinerator improve air quality?

“You are going to be poisoning not only the people of Sutton but the people of Croydon which has the highest number of people [in London] with breathing and asthma issues.”

As well as a network of four automatic air quality monitoring stations there are 26 passive nitrogen dioxide samplers around the borough.

Cllr Shields’ Conservative colleague, Cllr Jed Dwight, thought that the consultation should not run over the Christmas period.

“I think any council that does a consultation over Christmas genuinely doesn’t want uptake of this consultation,” he said.

“My experience with this council is that we do things because they look good but we don’t deliver.

“We window dress things that we think seems good but in reality there is no outcome.”

A calmly spoken Cllr Steve Penneck closed the debate by commending the action plan.

He said: “I think this is a really well thought-out plan and I don’t think it has been given the credit it deserves.

“I’m afraid that in this highly charged debate we haven’t heard an alternative to the plan.”

Despite the heated debate the committee unanimously agreed to proceed to consultation on the draft air quality action plan.

The plan includes encouraging people to walk and use public transport more, and raising public health awareness.

He said consultation on the draft plan could start as soon as next week and run for a total of nine weeks, one extra than usual to account for it running over Christmas.

But Cllr Annie Moral asked how the council will ensure that elderly people and those without internet will be able to take part in the consultation.

“This is about our elderly people in the borough who sometimes seem to miss consultation, a lot of their health problems are related to air quality,” she said.

Mr Trew said as well as the consultation being available online the chairs of ward committees will get the message out at their meetings.