CAMPAIGNERS have urged Northwich residents that “all is not lost” in the fight against plans to build an energy from waste plant in Lostock after it was revealed they have a strong case for mounting a legal challenge.

The Cheshire Anti Incinerator Network (CHAIN) and Stop Incineration in Disguise (SID) have been campaigning against plans to build the controversial energy from waste plant, planned for off Griffiths Road, since its approval earlier this year.

Despite Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) stating they would not challenge Tata Chemical Europe and E.ON’s plans themselves, CHAIN and SID refused to stand down, raising enough money to seek legal advice from top QC Anthony Crean – who represented Cheshire East Council in their fight against Covanta’s incinerator plans for Middlewich.

Nine CWAC councillors gave a total of £6,000 from their members’ budgets to fund Mr Crean, who concluded that CHAIN has strong grounds, and should win, any legal challenge it mounts against the plans.

He said that the negative impacts of the development on the human rights of local people, procedural unfairness of the planning inquiry process and the fact that Cheshire has already exceeded its requirements for incinerator capacity, give CHAIN a strong case.

CHAIN’s chairman, Brian Cartwright, said: “This is very encouraging news for the people of Northwich – it means that all is not lost in their fight against the incinerator.

“I again express our thanks to the nine CWAC councillors and Rudheath Parish Council for their financial support in getting this far in the legal process.”

Mr Cartwight said it would be “unthinkable” to ignore Mr Crean’s advice.

He said: “We did say that if Mr Crean advised that the case was hopeless that we would have to walk away. However, he has in fact said something very different and we now owe it to the local community to carry on the legal struggle.

“It would be unthinkable to ignore what Mr Crean, who is one of the most successful practitioners in his field, has told us.”

CHAIN now intends to ask CWAC to finance the next stage of the legal procedure.

“Most people now agree that what would be one of Europe’s largest waste incinerators at the edge of our town would be a disaster and we trust that the council will show its commitment to preventing that by using some of the council tax it collects in the locality to support a legal challenge.”