Communities secretary Eric Pickles has called in the planning application for Veolia’s proposed incinerator at New Barnfield, near Hatfield. The project now faces a public inquiry.
Pickles has acted because of the high level of public opposition against the 380,000-tonne-a-year plant.
A letter to Hertfordshire County Council from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), seen by the Welwyn Hatfield Times, states the minister believes the planning application to be of greater than merely local importance.
The DCLG writes: “Having regard to this policy, the Secretary of State is of the opinion that the application is one he ought to decide himself because he considers that the proposal concerns matters that give rise to a substantial cross boundary or national controversy.”
The letter adds: “The Secretary of State is very selective about calling in planning applications.”
The inquiry, chaired by an independent planning inspector, will hear the case for and against the incinerator.
Veolia Environmental Services has said it is disappointed at the decision to call in their application for the EfW plant, especially at the delay caused.
The company said construction on the facility had been due to commence in the summer but was now likely to be held up by around 12 months.
A Veolia spokesperson said the infrastructure and the employment it will create was urgently needed, and that the proposed combined recycling and EfW facility would increase recycling and generate 26.6MW of electricity.
Campaigners against the controversial plant are happy about the decision to call in the planning application, and say they have a strong case against the incinerator based on planning, sustainable waste disposal and heritage site issues.
The facility was granted planning permission by Hertfordshire County Council in October 2012.
Last week, MRW reported a significant ruling from the Information Commissioner that Hertfordshire council had to hand over environmental information on the plant to anti-incineration campaigners.