Only the very largest of incinerator applications qualify for determination by the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR), and chemical company Ineos Chlor’s plans for an enormous incinerator in Runcorn, Cheshire appear to have been approved.
Anti-incineration campaign group Cheshire Against Incineration (CHAIN) offers the following update on their website:
The residents of Halton and Runcorn awoke today to the news they had been dreading – Secretary of State Malcolm Wicks has granted planning permission to Ineos Chlor to build a 100Mw EfW plant at Picow Farm Road, Weston Point, Runcorn. In a letter issued by Richard Mellish, Director of Development Consents and Planning Reform he outlines the reasons why they have seen fit to agree to this proposal.
He notes that one of the reasons was that Halton Borough Council did not oppose the application, choosing instead to issue ambiguous statements. DBERR state that despite trying to clarify the Council’s position they had to conclude “…that the Council’s response did not constitute an objection and a public inquiry was therefore not mandatory”. This effectively meant that the local opposition could be ignored and as long as the application ‘ticked the right boxes’ it would be granted. Noting the unhappiness of local residents to the Council’s handling of this application he goes on to say that “…any concerns relating to the conduct of the Council are a matter for the Local Government Ombudsman”.
The decision paper covers all areas of objection sent to the Secretary of State including health, flora & fauna, local amenity, waste strategy and waste handling, alternative sites and Local Development Plan. Each of these is dismissed as reasons for objection, mostly by reference to other Government Agencies who are there to monitor these things, such as the Environment Agency. In a superb and probably unintended piece of irony he dismisses objections to the location and height of the chimney as being a danger to air traffic using Liverpool Airport by noting that “…no objection has been received from the Airport”. Hardly surprising when you learn that the airport is owned by Peel Holdings who themselves are looking to build an incinerator at Ince Marshes.
The next stage for protesters will be to appeal to the High Court for leave to seek a judicial review.
Scientist voices sympathy for residents over incinerator plan
A chemical expert campaigning against an incinerator at Ince Marshes in Cheshire says he “feels sorry” for Runcorn. Professor John Dearden was speaking after the Government granted permission for IneosChlor to build a £330m waste-to-energy incinerator at its Runcorn plant. The professor, who specialises in medicinal chemistry at Liverpool John Moores University, said: “I feel very sorry for Runcorn, it was already the cancer capital of the country and they are going to plonk another plant slap bang in the middle. “It is unbelievable.”
On their website, Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News posted an article entitled ‘Sold down the river’ over Runcorn incinerator – say campaigners. The article quotes Jeff Meehan, vice chairman of the Halton Action Group Against The Incinerator:
Our biggest fear is that more cancers will occur. We’ve already got the highest incidence of cancer of liver and kidneys in the UK. People will pay the price of this incinerator but it will be hidden because it will be so hard to identify…
Meehan blasted councillors for failing to call a public inquiry:
We are appalled. The sole thing that made this go through is that Halton Council did not call for a public inquiry. We have been sold down the river. Ineos used bully-boy tactics saying if you don’t give us permission, we’ll shut the whole site. The council didn’t have the bottle to stand up against them.
The Liverpool Daily Post report describes the proposal as creating a “25-year nightmare” for the people of Liverpool and Runcorn, noting:
the decision comes just 24 hours after the Daily Post revealed 11 sites on Merseyside which have been earmarked as most likely to host two major new public sector energy producing waste incinerators and mechanical treatment plants. Public consultation on these is expected to start in November.