Although Chester West and Cheshire Council approved Quinns application, full planning permission is yet to be granted, as it will be decided by the Secretary of State John Denham. He will decide whether to call it in and if a public inquiry should then take place.
Planning officers felt exceptional circumstances justified granting retrospective planning permission. These were:
- The site is previously used brownfield land in need of redevelopment and regeneration.
- Planning permission was granted to the development on the site in 2003.
- Environmental statements have been carried out and assessed for previous planning applications. The Secretary of State was satisfied with the environmental statements on the previous call-in.
Chairman Cllr Malcolm Byram said: We had a thorough debate and many local impacts of the plant were probed by members who also decided that Quinn be urged to investigate an alternative road access to the plant.
One of the key issues raised was traffic noise along Ash Road near the plant. The requirements for a rail line to the plant in the future will help tackle the road traffic problem and this should come to fruition as per the 106 agreement.
In response to the councils approval, Quinn Glass director Adrian Curry thanked all 700 staff for their hard work, as well as customers and the local community for their support. He said: This is good news for Quinn Glass and were pleased that the council has resolved to determine our planning application.
Ardagh Glass originally brought a legal case against Quinn concerning the lawfulness of the Elton plant. It unsuccessfully challenged the council on its right to determine the application on the grounds that a European Directive does not permit the grant of a retrospective planning permission for a development subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment. It is currently appealing against this decision.
Its director Keith Swindell said it was unsurprised by the decision. He added: The substantial expenditure of public money by the councils in repeatedly and unsuccessfully defending their support for the Quinn Glass development in the High Court testifies to its uncritical approach to this development.
We do not believe that Quinns application addresses the numerous and significant concerns raised by the Secretary of State when its previous application for the plant was rejected. Nor does the Planning Committees decision adequately address the lawfulness of granting retrospective planning permission for this development under existing EU law.