Hertfordshire Country Council and Veolia’s plans for a new energy from waste facility at Hatfield have been thrown out by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
Secretary of State Eric Pickles said: “Development within the green belt will not be allowed unless there are very special circumstances, and in thiscase, the benefits of the development did not outweigh the potential harm to the green belt.”
Veolia UK’s chief corporate officer Robert Hunt said the company was “very disappointed” by the decision and was “studying carefully the reasons given by him for his refusal of planning consent”.
Hunt added: “We would like to make clear that the proposed facility is located on previously developed land within the Green Belt and given the recent decision in favour of the Pinewood Studios expansion there now appear to be obvious inconsistencies in Green Belt planning policy.
“In our view there remains a clear local need for regional waste treatment infrastructure of this nature in Hertfordshire. This decision and the length of the decision-making process also send out a very negative signal to inward investors in UK Plc.”
DCLG said: “The decision took account of planning policy, and the planning inspector’s detailed findings including a public inquiry. The National Planning Policy Framework is clear that inappropriate developments in the green belt should not be allowed. The decision also took into account the proximity of Hatfield House, a Grade 1 listed building, and the effects the proposal could have on heritage protection.”
In 2012 the DCLG ordered Hertfordshire County Council to withhold planning permission for a school near the Hatfield site to be temporarily re-located during construction of the incinerator until it had been considered by Pickles.
Cllr John Dean, leader of the borough council, welcomed the DCLG decision: “Understandably we are very pleased that the inspector agreed this was not a suitable site for the incinerator. We have consistently argued that point on behalf of residents over a number of years. Councillors and council officers have fought long and hard to make the case that it would have a significant impact on the landscape, and on people in the surrounding area.”