Communities secretary Eric Pickles has failed to decide whether to allow an appeal by Urbaser Balfour Beatty over an energy-from-waste (EfW) facility after Gloucestershire County Council’s planning committee refused planning consent.
Urbaser Balfour Beatty was awarded a contract in September 2012 to build the £500m facility at Javelin Park near Haresfield, when the council had a Conservative majority.
In 2013 the Conservatives lost their majority and the council became under no overall control. In March this year Gloucestershire’s planning committee blocked the application.
The planning committee made its decision in the face of intense public opposition shortly before local elections. Urbaser Balfour Beatty then launched an appeal in an attempt to overturn the decision.
Pickles was due to rule by 22 December whether the appeal could proceed. It is now the third time a decision has been put back.
A letter from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s planning casework team said: “Unfortunately we will not be able to issue the decision this December. I am sorry that we will be unable to meet the target in this case, but please be assured we are progressing matters as quickly as we can.”
Ray Theodoulou, cabinet member responsible for waste, said: “We are clearly very frustrated by this further delay, however, we appreciate the secretary of state is keen to make the right decision on such an important issue.
“If approved, the facility will make an important change in the way that Gloucestershire deals with the household waste of its 600,000 residents, diverting over 92% of waste from landfill. It will make a significant impact on tackling climate change by removing 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and save local people more than £150m during the next 25 years.
“Our aim is to reach 70% recycling across the county and stop burying waste in the ground completely. As well as this new facility, Gloucestershire will also be using anaerobic digestion to treat food waste and recycling more. This all takes us a huge step closer.”
The delay echoes the lack of decision from Pickles on Norfolk County Council’s proposed incinerator at King’s Lynn, which eventually had to be scrapped and compensation paid by the local authority to Cory Wheelabrator.