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Pickles to take decision on Peel MRF and EfW facility

Community secretary Eric Pickles is to examine the planning application for a £70m recycling and energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in Nottinghamshire after it was approved by the local authority.

A meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council’s planning committee on 18 November gave Peel Environmental the green light to construct the Bilsthorpe Energy Centre on a former colliery site.

But Pickles told the council not to complete the application to give him time to take a closer look at the plans.

A letter sent to councillors said the matter would be “dealt with as quickly as possible”.

Nottinghamshire’s planning chair, councillor John Wilkinson, said: “For large planning applications with significant public interest, it’s not unusual for the minister to scrutinise a planning committee’s decision and I welcome his decision to take a look at it.

“I know I speak for the whole planning committee when I say that the decision to grant consent, in the face of a lot of concern from the local community, was an extremely difficult one. Ultimately though, if the committee decides to refuse an application, it must be confident and be able to demonstrate that there are sound planning reasons for doing so.

“I have every confidence that our officers and the committee gave full and proper consideration to the very latest Government guidance in considering the plans and that our decision-making processes were sound. The minister’s scrutiny should provide additional assurance to the public that that was the case.”

Richard Barker, development manager for Peel Environmental, said: “We welcome the support of Nottinghamshire County Councillors in passing a resolution to approve the Bilsthorpe Energy Centre application. This situation is  not unusual and we await the outcome of the next step in the planning process.

“Over the past two years we have worked hard to develop an application that carefully considered all aspects of the Energy Centre. Delivering the Bilsthorpe Energy Centre will not only help divert waste from landfill and widen the sources from which we get our energy - it will also create new jobs, supply chain opportunities and boost the local economy by around £4.3m per year.”

The scheme includes a materials recovery facility to filter out 22,000 tonnes of recyclables each year, as well as a gasification facility to turn the remaining 95,000 tonnes of waste into electricity.

The planning committee had been due to consider the application on 21 October, but postponed after the Government published new national planning policy on waste five days before the meeting.

In December last year Pickles reviewed the council’s decision to grant consent for a new surface coal mine at Shortwood, near Trowell. In July he said he did not intend to call in the application.

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