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Truce in Surrey gasifier row

A Surrey council has said its threat of judicial review has seen controversial gasifier proposals halted.

Spelthorne District Council has been embroiled in a lengthy dispute with Surrey County Council, waste firm SITA and the Environment Agency over an application to build a batch oxidation system gasification at an eco park in Shepperton.

The district launched judicial review proceedings last autumn, in which it argued that the Agency’s permit for the gasifiers was “in breach of European law, is unclear and unenforceable”.

It halted proceedings last week after it said it won agreement that different technologies would be investigated “to avoid further public expenditure on a costly judicial review”.

Spelthorne’s leader Robert Watts said Surrey and SITA had “confirmed that they intend to apply for a variation to the existing permit to allow for a new design of incinerator”, and had given Spelthorne assurances that nothing would happen until fresh planning application was made for whichever new technology is adopted.

Watts said: “This is an important concession which the council has won from the Environment Agency, Surrey County Council and SITA”.

He said: “As a new permit is about to be negotiated for a new design of [gasifier] technology, it was important to make this point and stand up for the best interests of Spelthorne residents.” 

Spelthorne was concerned that the gasifiers would have suffered similar issues to those at Dargavel, where Scotgen was forced to cease processing waste after the Scottish Environment Protection Agency found it had breached dioxin emission limits in May 2012.

The saga began in January 2011 when Spelthorne raised “very strong objections” to the gasifier proposals over issues of green belt development, noise and pollution from the eco park.

This was intended to process 60,000 tonnes of household waste a year from gasification, 40,000 tonnes of food waste a year from anaerobic digestion and to house recycling centres.

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