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Covanta incinerator gets committee support

Plans for an incinerator in Bedfordshire have moved a step closer after a parliamentary committee supported the project and rejected petitions from local councils and other campaigners.

The scheme by Covanta Energy, to create an 585,000 tonne capacity EfW and MRF facility at Rookery South Pit in Stewartby, is the subject of a special parliamentary procedure which allows petitions. 

The controversial project received the go-ahead from the Infrastructure Planning Commision in October last year but Bedford Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire Council and the Waste Recycling Group (now FCC Environment) have petitioned against the scheme with claims including negative effects on the environment, local communities and transport networks.

However the Joint Committee of the two Houses of Parliament dismissed the petitions.

Covanta Energy’s UK managing director Malcolm Chilton said: “I am very pleased that the Joint Committee has supported the project, finding that there is no case to answer in respect of the two councils’ petitions of general objection and the amending petition by WRG.

“I believe that the Rookery South RRF is a good project that will make an important contribution to meeting the urgent need for new, low-carbon electricity generating capacity in this country and help deliver more sustainable waste management.

But it asked Covanta to contribute more to the development of the Milton Keynes to Bedford Waterway where its course runs through the incinerator site.

Chilton said:  “We are happy to do this and will be responding to the committee next week with our proposals, which we hope will by then have been agreed in detail with the councils. We look forward to the conclusion of the process and to being able to move forward with the massive inward investment that the project will bring to the economy.”

However, Tim Hill, Liberal Democrat councillor for Elstow, Stewartby and Kempston Hardwick, was one of several local councillors to criticise the committee’s conclusion.

He said: “It is absolutely disgraceful that members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee have ignored the concerns of thousands of local residents. The overwhelming views of local communities have yet again been dismissed by distant decision-makers, with the result that residents in Stewartby and nearby villages face a potential future in the shadow of this appalling, oversized rubbish burner.”

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