The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has rejected planning permission for Veolia’s proposed energy-from-waste plant in Hertfordshire, following a High Court’s decision to strike down a previous decision by the Department.
The project originally received £115.3m in PFI projects from Defra and was granted planning permission by Hertfordshire County Council in 2012.
The 380,000 tonnes-per-year energy-from-waste plant near Hatfield was then refused planning permission by the then Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, over concerns about the plant’s impact on the Green Belt. (See CIWM Journal Online story)
Pickles said the plant, which was originally approved by Hertfordshire county council in 2012, would prevent other treatment capacity from being developed in the area as it would “absorb” a large proportion of the waste generated.
In agreeing with the inspector, the DCLG said that despite the range of benefits, the plant would be inappropriate and very special circumstances had not been demonstrated
DCLG published its decision on the proposals, saying: “Though the site of the proposed building is already developed, the Secretary of State also considers that the building’s very large bulk and visual prominence compared with existing structures would be detrimental to the visual perception of the remaining gap between Hatfield and Welham Green.
“For this reason he considers that the proposed building would be harmful in terms of another of the purposes of the Green Belt – to prevent neighbouring settlements merging into one another.”
Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet asked Veolia for an alternative option for dealing with Hertfordshire’s residual waste late last year. (See CIWM Journal Online story.)
Mr Justice Holgate at the High Court overturned the decision, saying Pickles “got it wrong” in balancing harm to the green belt with the need for the waste facility.
Veolia – “This innovative facility would have extracted further recyclable material from Hertfordshire’s black bag waste before generating electricity for the national grid by treating what remains. It would have supported both local investment and job creation”
In agreeing with the inspector, the DCLG said that despite the range of benefits, the plant would be inappropriate and very special circumstances had not been demonstrated.
Veolia’s regional director for the East, Keith McGurk, said: “Our application to develop a recycling and energy recovery facility in Hatfield received positive support from Hertfordshire County Council in 2012 when they resolved to grant permission, so after a further three years of deliberation by the Secretary of State this news is very disappointing.
“Veolia’s view is that this is exactly the type of waste infrastructure the UK needs.
“This innovative facility would have extracted further recyclable material from Hertfordshire’s black bag waste before generating electricity for the national grid by treating what remains. It would have supported both local investment and job creation.
“We will carefully review the details of the decision letter before considering any further action and will continue to work with the local authority as they assess and evaluate our draft alternative solution for Hertfordshire, which was submitted on 7 July.”