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U-turn over plans for Cannock EfW

Staffordshire County Council has reversed its decision to award planning permission to Biffa to build an energy-from-waste (EfW) facility.

Following the review of the council’s decision, the planning committee decided to rescind planning permission for the proposed 40,000 tonne a year EfW facility at Cannock. The council said benefits were outweighed by the impacts on the local community and its environment.

The council’s concerns include:

  • scale of the development and the prominence of the site and its visual impact  
  • impact of traffic
  • an ‘over-domination’ of the waste industry in the area would affect prospects for local economy and jobs
  • local health impacts.

But, according to local paper the Express & Star, concerns were raised over whether an £80,000 per year offer by Biffa to fund local community service projects had influenced the decision. The council did not mention Biffa’s offer of community buy-in among the reasons for reversing its decision.

Committee chairman Tim Corbett said: “The majority [of the people on the planning committee] felt there was clearly no need for this extra waste facility in Staffordshire and that environmentally and socially the costs were too high and the benefits too small for the people of Staffordshire.”

Biffa’s planning and permitting manager Jeff Rhodes said the decision undermined the planning system.  

“We are very surprised with the highly unusual and curious way in which the committee has reversed a decision it made a few weeks ago despite the details of our scheme remaining exactly the same.

“This is unique in our experience and does nothing to encourage confidence in the planning system. We obviously have the right to appeal and will now look at taking such action,” he added.

In June, Biffa opened the UK’s largest anaerobic digestion facility in Cannock.

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