North London boroughs drawing up a strategic waste plan have failed to fulfill their duty to cooperate, a planning inspector has ruled.
After considering evidence from all the relevant local authorities affected by the North London Waste Plan, the inspector concluded there had been “scant” consultation between the London councils and authorities outside London where some of the landfill will end up.
The planning inspector paused an inquiry into the plan in June after the South East Waste Planning Advisory Group and the East of England Waste Technical Advisory Body, which represent neighbouring authorities, claimed that they had not been consulted adequately.
Inspector Andrew Mead ordered Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest councils to demonstrate that they fulfilled a “duty to co-operate” under the Localism Act.
After considering their responses the inspector issued a statement saying that there had “not been constructive, active and ongoing engagement”during development of the North London Waste Plan.
He said: “I have considered carefully all the representations and have also taken into account the potentially significant implications of my decision.
“However, I consider no alternative conclusion can be reached, especially as it is claimed that there has been no liaison between the (North London) Councils and Buckinghamshire County Council, Northamptonshire County Council, the Bedfordshire Councils, Essex County Council and Hertfordshire County Council, other than as described above.
“Therefore, contact has been scant.”
The inspector said that he was therefore unable to continue with the inquiry and could only recommend non-adoption of the plan.
However, he suggested that the North London councils could carry out sufficient consultation with the neighbouring boroughs and establish a “memoranda of understanding” in order to fulfill the duty to co-operate.
Deborah Sacks, convenor of the the South East Waste Planning Advisory Group and secretary to the East of England Waste Technical Advisory Body, said: “We are very pleased with the decision and we look forward to some constructive dialogue.”
A spokesman for the North London Waste Plan said: “We are disappointed that the Inspector has not supported our position on the Duty to Co-operate. This means further delay and further stages for the waste plan before we can get the waste plan back to an examination.
“There is still a need for a waste plan for North London that will enable the area to take more responsibility for managing its own waste. We are actively considering how best to proceed in the light of the Inspector’s decision. “