Campaigners have dropped plans for a judicial review of the way Ineos ChlorVinyls received an environmental permit for a combined heat and power plant in Runcorn.
Halton Action Group Against The Incinerator (Hagati) had planned to challenge the plant’s incinerator classification because the operators were granted planning permission for a power station.
Hagati claims this meant Ineos avoided the more rigorous public scrutiny an application for an incinerator would have brought. But the group has given up on the legal challenge after the Environment Agency produced legal documents supporting its case.
Hagati chairman Jeff Meehan told MRW: “We are very disappointed but the judicial review process has fallen down.”
Meehan claimed the EA had changed the rules on incinerator licences between the planning permission being awarded in 2007 and the permit being granted in 2011. He also said Ineos would avoid paying environmental taxes under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) if it was classed as an incinerator.
“We feel victims of the system,” he told MRW.
However, the EA insisted that no regulations had changed; guidance had merely been issued to clarify existing rules.
It added that the permitting process was entirely separate to the planning system and the ETS. The firm would avoid the taxes whatever its classification, said the agency – it is exempt because its primary activity is to burn municipal waste.
EA area manager Claire Bunter said: “Our decision was the result of close scrutiny of the evidence and the expert advice we have received from a range of specialists at the Health Protection Agency, the local Primary Care Trust and the Food Standards Agency, among others.
“The local community also took part in the consultation process, and their views were considered in line with the decision-making process. We are satisfied that the design and management of the facility will meet high modern standards set by the UK Government and Europe.”
An Ineos spokesman added: “We do not agree with the Hagati version of events. Our position has been set out clearly.”
Hagati is pressing on with a challenge to proposals by Ineos ChlorVinyls to increase the amount of refuse derived fuel transported by road to the Runcorn plant from 85,000 to 480,000 tonnes a year.