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Bid to halt Urbaser Balfour Beatty incinerator fails

A challenge by Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors in Gloucestershire to reverse a cabinet decision approving a contract to build an energy-from-waste facility has been rejected.

Earlier this month, Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet gave the green light for Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) proposals to build an incinerator at Javelin Park near Haresfield in a deal worth around £500m.

Opponents of the proposals are concerned about the disposal of fly ash from the facility. Some councillors are also concerned that the project has not yet received planning permission or been awarded a permit from the Environment Agency.

Ten Lib Dem and Labour members signed a call-in to reappraise the decision, and made their case at a meeting of the overview and scrutiny management committee on 2 October. The call-in said that details to transport fly ash from the facility to Peterborough “have yet to be confirmed” and that it would be “cautionary” to wait until an environment permit was awarded.

The councillors also claimed that there would be “undue pressure” placed on the council’s planning committee to approve the facility because of fears about costs of terminating the contract.

In response, the cabinet’s waste champion Stan Waddington said it was not unusual to sign contracts before planning permission was granted, and that receiving an environment permit was a “separate issue”. He also confirmed that UBB was planning to send residual fly ash to a facility in Peterborough.

He added: “In respect of waste disposal, we are facing an impending crisis as the cost of landfill tax per tonne of waste rises from £13 per tonne in 2002 to £80 per tonne in 2013. This will place an additional annual burden of around £10m a year on the council by 2014. In the light of this and the spending cuts, we cannot afford to do nothing.”

Local group GlosVAIN staged a protest outside the council offices as the meeting took place. A statement on its website read: “Signing the contract before planning permission – a cynical move to put pressure on the planning process and nothing more. The contract may get signed but the fight is far from over.”

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