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Eric Pickles rejects long-running Nottinghamshire EfW call-in inquiry

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has rejected a call-in inquiry for Veolia’s proposed 180,000 tonne energy-from-waste (EfW) facility in Rainworth, Nottinghamshire.

The long-running inquiry, which involved several postponements, was ultimately decided upon by Eric Pickles who followed the recommendation of planning inspector Rupert Grantham.

In his conclusions, Grantham commented that the requirement for the facility “is not justified on the basis of municipal solid waste arisings alone”, he said: “In my view, it [the facility] would be heavily dependent upon supplies of commercial and industrial (C&I) waste. PPS10 [the Government’s planning policy statement] encourages the diversion of both MSW and C&I waste streams, from landfill, but I am not persuaded that there is a shortage of landfill capacity here which adds urgency to this.

“More could be done to recycle or compost the waste. The viability of this is unclear, because details of the PFI contract have been withheld, but it becomes relevant if the proposed incineration facility does not qualify as a recovery operation. In that event, Veolia would have failed to demonstrate that the energy recovery facility’s development would not prejudice further movement up the waste hierarchy. This would be contrary to PPS10.”

Planning permission for the facility was initially granted by the county council in January 2009, which was successfully called in by anti-EfW campaign group People Against Incineration (PAIN), who petitioned former communities secretary Hazel Blears. The inquiry was postponed three times and finally concluded in October.

PAIN chairman Bernard Thompson said: “This is a happy day for the people of Rainworth, and for all who care about Sherwood Forest. I would like to thank everyone involved. Local support remained solid over many years of campaigning. We have utmost respect for the Planning Inspector, Mr Rupert Grantham, who treated all parties fairly and arrived at the right conclusion.”

UKWIN network co-ordinator Shlomo Dowen, who gave evidence on behalf of PAIN at the inquiry, told MRW that the decision was a landmark case for campaigners.

He said: “This reinforces UKWIN’s call for an automatic right of appeal by the community because in this instance and elsewhere as well, there may be important material planning considerations that may be missed by a waste planning authority’s planning committee, but they nevertheless should influence the planning decision.”

He added that the organisation was looking forward to working with the county council to find a new solution for the treatment of the council’s waste.

Veolia Environmental Services Nottinghamshire managing director Steve Mitchell expressed “disappointment” with the decision, he said: “Over a period of 5 years our development team and other partners have been dedicated to delivering an Energy Recovery Facility at the Rufford site.

“A state of the art Energy Recovery Facility would have significantly reduced the amount of waste sent to landfill in Nottinghamshire, generated enough electricity for 15,000 homes and heat for other local businesses and future developments. The facility would have helped regenerate the Rainworth economy and the surrounding area by bringing new jobs and investment.

“Our team have worked through the planning process with professionalism and integrity. In the coming weeks we will work with Nottinghamshire County Council to consider alternative options and a way forward on how to deal with the county’s municipal waste.”

 

Readers' comments (1)

  • If only Veolia (and Nottinghamshire County Council) had been willing to work with the community, the outcome might have been very different for all concerned. As the history is written, the adversarial approach adopted by those who were certain they could push this through back-fired. Although it is said that the community "won", in truth the best outcome for all concerned would have been for Veolia to have listened. Maybe now all parties could sit around the table and work something out? But first the contractual issues will need to be addressed, and naturally the community will be shut out of any discussion that involves how our money is to be spent! Will Veolia ever learn?

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