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Campaigners lose Ardley battle

Oxfordshire County Council and Viridor have welcomed the decision by the High Court to refuse a final challenge to the planning permission granted for an energy-from-waste (EfW) plant.

Campaigners from the Ardley Against Incineration (AAI) group had applied to appeal the Secretary of State’s decision issued in February to grant planning permission. Applications to overturn it were twice refused - in July and September.

The ruling by a Court of Appeal judge clears the way for construction work to begin on the £100m facility alongside Viridor’s existing landfill site.

Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for growth and infrastructure, councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale said: “It’s excellent news that this situation is now resolved. We have experienced an eight-month delay which has resulted in significant costs to the council. We now anticipate that Viridor will progress swiftly with construction of the facility at Ardley, making the environmental and financial benefits it will bring to Oxfordshire a reality.”

Lindsay-Gale told the BBC the delays caused by legal challenges had cost the council up to £15m in landfill taxes and costs to Viridor.

However, Jonathan O’Neill from AAI told BBC Oxford: “When you actually press the county council to show you the maths they never quite add up, and they’re never quite strictly on the ball with when these targets actually have to be paid.”

“We followed the process that we are entitled to do, just as Viridor did when they appealed the original Oxfordshire County Council planning decision not to grant it, so the shoe’s on the other foot.”

Viridor head of projects Robert Ryan said: “We were confident that our proposal for Oxfordshire was carefully and thoroughly developed. We can now start preparing for construction works to start so we can deliver a state of the art facility for Oxfordshire in 2014.”

The Ardley EfW plant has been beset by legal challenges since Viridor’s original planning application was refused in April 2010.

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