Veolia says it is shocked that the Government has ordered a public inquiry into plans for an energy-from-waste (EfW) facility in Hertfordshire.
Sajid Javid, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, called in the plans following the department’s intervention in December, when the council was prevented from granting permission.
This is Veolia’s second attempt to build an EfW facility for Hertfordshire County Council. The Ratty’s Lane scheme in Hoddesdon, bitterly opposed by community groups and local MP Charles Walker, is itself an alternative to a previous project at New Barnfield. This was rejected in 2014 by the then communities secretary Sir Eric Pickles.
A Veolia spokesperson said the company was “shocked at the unexpected decision”.
“We cannot think of any basis for this on planning grounds because the application has already been approved locally by the appropriate authorities.
“The facility sits on an industrial site outside the Green Belt, will divert local waste from landfill and protect the environment. At the same time it will contribute significantly to the local economy by creating jobs and deliver green energy that will power tens of thousands of homes.
“This decision sends out a negative message to private companies looking to invest millions of pounds in much-needed infrastructure in the UK. We are considering all our options.”
Terry Hone, council cabinet member for waste management, said: “We are very disappointed. Planning in a county like Hertfordshire is always going to involve balancing different considerations but, as a waste disposal authority, we believe there is a compelling case for granting planning permission.
“Continuing delay to the scheme adds pressure to Hertfordshire’s bill for disposing of waste, although the project will still provide a very good value for money solution compared with other options. We hope the secretary of state will move swiftly in his deliberations which will ensure a further level of scrutiny to this very important project.”
Sajid Javid 2015
Javid will appoint a planning inspector to hold a public inquiry into Veolia’s proposals for the 350,000-tonne plant.
The inspector will recommend whether or not planning permission can be granted but the minister makes the final decision.
If the plans are rejected, the council faces paying Veolia a £1.2m break-up fee.