Civil service raised concerns about Barclay’s role in approving EfW plant


Steve Barclay

Civil service officials raised concerns about the Environment Secretary Steve Barclay’s role in approving an energy-from-waste facility in his constituency, the BBC has reported.

According to the BBC, civil servants raised concerns about a possible, or perceived, conflict between his constituency and ministerial roles. Barclay has vocally opposed the waste incinerator since plans were first submitted to the government in 2019.

The matter was escalated to the Cabinet Office’s ethics unit, which discussed it with him. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told the BBC that Mark Spencer, a junior minister, will make the decision, and Barclay will not have any say over the project in his North East Cambridgeshire seat.

In February, the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Claire Coutinho announced that Medworth CHP should be granted consent to construct and operate an energy-from-waste Combined Heat and Power (EfW CHP) facility on the industrial estate at Algores Way, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Medworth said the new facility will recover electricity and steam from over half a million tonnes of non-recyclable municipal (household), commercial and industrial waste each year and has a generating capacity of over 50 megawatts.

Five local authorities – Wisbech Town Council, Fenland District Council, King’s Lynn Borough Council, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire county councils – have opposed the incinerator scheme. The former prime minister Liz Truss has also come out against the scheme.

The Environment Secretary greeted the campaign group WinWIN (Wisbech Without Incineration) when they protested against the planned incinerator outside the House of Commons.

A government spokesman said: “The secretary of state is recused from the decision. No decision has been taken. Mark Spencer is the minister responsible and would take any decision on this issue.”

Shadow Environment Secretary Labour MP Steve Reed said the reports “raised serious issues”, including a potential breach of the Ministerial Code. In a letter, Reed asked if Barclay would publish any communication he has had with the Environment Agency about the incinerator.

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