Veolia Environmental Services has withdrawn their s288 legal challenge against the Secretary of State’s May 2011 decision to refuse planning permission for an incinerator at the Former Rufford Colliery in Rainworth, Nottinghamshire.

To quote the local announcement from UKWIN member group PAIN:

We are pleased to inform you that Veolia has now withdrawn their legal challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse planning permission for the proposed facility.

As you may know, a planning application was submitted by Veolia for the facility and related infrastructure back in November 2007. This application was called-in by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in March 2009, and a public inquiry was held to inform the Secretary of State’s decision. Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust (NWT) and People Against Incineration (PAIN) worked closely alongside Newark & Sherwood District Council and others to provide evidence for the public inquiry.

On the 26th of May 2011 the Secretary of State announced that he agreed with his Inspector’s recommendation, and formally decided that Veolia’s incinerator application should be refused planning permission for various reasons, including the impact upon protected bird species (Woodlark and Nightjar) and their habitats for nesting and foraging (including heathland and woodland). The Decision Letter and accompanying Inspector’s Report are available from: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planning-callins/pdf/1914959.pdf

Veolia subsequently launched a legal challenge to this decision by making an application to the High Court under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for the Secretary of State’s decision to be rendered null and void. The Government decided to defend the decision to refuse planning permission, and both Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and PAIN directed resources to assisting the courts. However, the case will now not be going ahead, as Veolia recently decided to withdraw their appeal. Veolia has now lodged a consent order with the Court to this effect.

Janice Bradley, Head of Conservation Policy and Planning for the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, explains: “We are privileged in Sherwood to host two such important European protected bird species as nightjar and woodlark, and I hope that we can now draw a line under this long saga of immense community and Wildlife Trust resources having to be committed to fight to protect our wildlife and landscape heritage, and can now focus those resources on positive conservation effort, where we can work together for a shared vision of a wildlife-rich landscape that all can enjoy”

PAIN’s Chairman, Bernard Thompson said: “We are also grateful to UKWIN, who helped us see this through to a happy ending”. Rainworth Councillor and PAIN Treasurer Linda Tift added: “The community has plenty to celebrate, and still more to do to protect and enhance local wildlife for the benefit of future generations”.

The work on the Former Rufford Colliery site is now focussed on ensuring its restoration to heathland and woodland and its inclusion within a Sherwood Forest Special Protection Area (SPA). The first stage of the SPA review process is expected to be completed in December 2012, and the withdrawal of the legal challenge removes a barrier to honouring the restoration conditions agreed to as part of the 1996 planning permission for the temporary continuation of coal stocking, blending and distribution activities attached on the site.

On a separate note, there is the future of waste management in Nottinghamshire to be considered, and both PAIN and NWT are taking part in the consultation into the Nottinghamshire Waste Core Strategy. Submissions on the Proposed Changes are due by the 12th of November 2012, and this will be followed by an examination in public sometime in 2013. Running parallel to this process is Nottinghamshire County Council’s decision on a Revised Project Plan for the Waste PFI in response to Veolia’s failure to obtain planning permission on the Former Rufford Colliery site, and we await details of this new plan.

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