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Council considers legal action against waste plant decision
LEGAL advisors are investigating whether the council has grounds to challenge plans for a waste plant in Lostock Gralam.
Cheshire West and Chester Council is currently taking legal advice from counsel after the Government decided to approve the controversial plans.
Counsel will advise whether the authority can apply for permission to seek judicial review.
Clr Mark Stocks said: “We have asked our legal advisers to review the decision documents and rule under whether we can legally challenge this very disappointing decision.
“We believe there is an inconsistency between the Secretary of State’s decision to favour Tata’s application and that of a different minister to reject the Covanta appeal relating to a smaller scale plant in Middlewich.
“We believe that due account should be taken of the capacity to be provided by the Ince Marshes and Bedminster proposals and challenge the Secretary’s opinion that ‘market forces and the cost of transport’ would help ensure that waste would be recovered close to its source.”
Cheshire West and Chester Council opposed the application, put forward by Tata Chemicals Europe and E.ON.
'The people of Northwich deserve better than this'
OPPONANTS are rallying against an energy from waste plant that has been approved for Lostock Gralam.
Campaigners were left reeling after the Government announced its decision to allow Tata Chemicals Europe and E.ON to build the sustainable energy plant off Griffiths Road.
It was approved by Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, following a five-week public consultation last autumn.
Clr Emma Guy, vice chairman of Lostock Gralam Parish Council, said members were ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the decision.
“We believed, as did many residents, that we had made a sufficiently robust case at the Public Inquiry and backed with 25,000 signatures and 4,000 individual objections to this plan, that it would be refused,” she said.
“Despite a resounding 'NO' from local residents, LGPC, Northwich Town Council and CWAC, we are amazed that this project has been given planning permission.
“This decision will have enormous consequences not just for the residents of Lostock Gralam, but for Northwich and the surrounding areas for many years to come.
“Naturally we will be working closely with the other councils to assess our options and see if there is sufficient leeway for a legal challenge at this late stage.”
Brian Cartwright, chairman of Cheshire Anti Incinerator Network (CHAIN), said its members were angered at the lack of consistency from the Government, which turned down plans for an energy from waste plant in Middlewich earlier this year.
He also argued that the presence of the plant would damage plans to regenerate Northwich.
He added: “There is still time for the Government to come to its senses and prevent what would be a catastrophe.
“CHAIN and the other parties involved, including the council, have three months to lodge a legal challenge.
“We will be making a further announcement in due course.
“In the mean time, I urge all who are opposed to this attempted assault on our town not to give up.
“The people of Northwich deserve better than this.”
Q&A with Tata Chemicals Europe
• Has Tata been surprised by the reaction on our website with the unprecedented amount of comments?
A range of opinions have been expressed on the Northwich Guardian website. The issues that have been debated were all considered in the Planning Inspector’s Report and DECC’s subsequent review. We are pleased that a number of your readers, like both the Planning Inspector and the Secretary of State, have decided, after considering all of the evidence, to support our application for a sustainable energy plant.
• Campaigners suggest that the Government has not shown consistency in dealing with this application and Covanta’s application in Middlewich, which was turned down. How does Tata’s application differ from Covanta’s? Are people wrong in expecting them to be dealt with in the same way?
Our application was dealt with by the Department of Energy and Climate Change as it was an application for a sustainable energy plant made under the Electricity Act. The Middlewich application was made under the Town and Country Planning Act and as such the proposal has to meet different criteria.
The Planning Inspector’s report concluded that our application “...would comply with national policies on energy mix and maintaining a secure, reliable and flexible supply of electricity as the UK makes the transition to a low carbon economy and achieving climate change goals.”
• What kind of impact do you think the energy from waste plant will have on the regeneration of Northwich?
We are proud of our long association with Northwich and the direct and indirect economic contribution we have made to the town and the surrounding area. The new sustainable energy plant will allow us to plan our long-term future, will create hundreds of jobs during the construction phase and approximately 50 jobs once commissioned. It should, therefore, complement any scheme to regenerate Northwich.
• Do you consider there to be any health risks associated with the plant?
Tata Chemicals Europe would not have sought planning permission for a sustainable energy plant if we weren’t completely satisfied that it wouldn’t pose any health risks to either our employees or the local population.
The sustainable energy plant will utilise state-of-the-art technologies and will be operated by E.ON Energy from Waste, who already successfully operate 19 similar facilities in Northern Europe, one of the most highly regulated regions of the world. The plant will require an environmental permit and will have to comply with the strict limits that are set by the Environment Agency.
All the emissions will be tightly controlled and monitored 24 hours a day. They will also have been through a state of the art cleaning process to make sure there is no impact on local air quality.
• How many lorry movements will there be per day and what proportion of fuel will be transported by rail?
This depends on where the waste fuel is sourced from which hasn’t been decided yet. We have always stated that it’s our aim to use rail as the main method of bringing two-thirds of the fuel to site and this remains the case.
• What will traffic movements be like during the demolition/construction phase?
Construction traffic will be significantly lower than when the site is operational. This is still to be determined.