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Judge denies waste firm's planning application after protests

Wiltshire firm Hills Waste Solutions has lost a judicial review brought by a local campaign group against its application to extend a MRF site at Lower Compton, near Calne.

Wiltshire Council had refused to grant planning permission for the expansion, but this was overturned by planning inspectors from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Protesters Wiltshire Waste Alliance (WWA) challenged the inspector’s decision and won on two of five grounds. This is expected to mean that planning inspectors must reconsider the case.

Judge Sir Ross Cranston noted in his judgment that the site had a complicated series of planning permissions for different waste activities carried out there. He upheld a challenge that the inspector did not properly take account of the existing planning consent given for one part of the site, known as ‘area G’.

The judge said: “In my view…the inspector failed to give proper consideration to the limits of the existing consents…the inspector momentarily slipped in concluding that the application documents were not incorporated into the consent.”

WWA also won on its claim that the environmental statement was inadequate.

Sir Ross said that allowing the challenge to the inspector over his conclusion on area G could affect the basis of the statement, and so it needed to be reconsidered.

He rejected claims that the inspector gave too much weight to Hills’ evidence and misinterpreted both the landfill restoration and site allocations plans.

Hills said in statement: “Hills is disappointed by the court decision [but] we are pleased that the court found in our favour on three of the five grounds of claim.

“We are grateful for the court’s clarification that the site at Lower Compton is a strategic site under Wiltshire Council’s waste development plan, and the activities undertaken at the site are in accordance with existing planning permissions.”

It said that if the application came before planning inspectors again, it was confident the judgement would not alter their decision to accept the application.

The company said its preferred option for waste management was for Wiltshire to deliver redevelopment of the nearby Sands Farm facility, extension of the landfill and mineral extraction operations at Lower Compton and provision of a private internal link road to reduce traffic movements in Calne.

“Should the plans for our preferred option be approved then we will give an undertaking not to pursue development of the planned extension at the Lower Compton MRF subject to this [planning] review,” it said.

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