Campaigners are celebrating once again as the Planning Inspectorate publishes the Decision Document confirming that the attempt by Resource Recovery Solutions (RRS) to site a waste incinerator in Sinfin, Derby has failed.
Congratulations are in order!
- Simon Bacon and the rest of Sinfin, Spondon and all Against Incineration (SSAIN);
- Dorothy Skrytek and the other members of Derby Friends of the Earth (FOE);
- Councillors Turner and Shanker;
- Expert Witnesses Professor Paul Connett, Keith Kondakor and Tim Hill; and
- all 85 people who expressed their objections and concerns about the proposed waste treatment facility at the public “drop in” sessions on 15 and 16 September.
RRS appealed Derby City Council’s refusal to grant permission for the proposal, and Ruth V MacKenzie was appointed to be the Planning Inspector by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The Public Inquiry was held between 7 September and 1 October 2010.
As is reported by the BBC:
Although inspector Ruth MacKenzie ruled the plant would not have a “harmful visual impact” on the area – despite a 55m (180ft) stack – she said it would have a negative impact on traffic. She also said emissions from the plant and local residents’ concerns about the impact on their health were factors in turning down the appeal.
RRS said it was disappointed
According to LetsRecycle Shanks has said it is “extremely disappointed”, and Edward Thomas, project director for Resource Recovery Solutions (Derbyshire) Ltd (RRS), said he was “extremely disappointed”. [ – Could this be the same Edward Thomas who tried with Veolia to secure planning permission for a Sherwood Forest incinerator?]
The Inspector did not want to make a bad situation worse:
The residents of Sinfin and surrounding areas live in an environment in which the unpleasant effects of industrial processes and traffic congestion are part of day-to-day life. Many residents feel as though this part of Derby is used as a “dumping ground”; a view with which I have some sympathy. I consider that the proposed WTF has the potential to make a bad situation worse.
She acknowledged the improvements in recycling, and called the need for the facility into question:
…the rate of recycling in Derbyshire has been increasing continually since 1999 and shows no signs of slowing down. In 2009 the rate was about 42%, having nearly doubled since 2004/2005. The County Council (in its Rebuttal Statement) expresses confidence that things will continue to improve and, in paragraph 13.6, concedes that 70% is theoretically possible. Indeed, in view of successes elsewhere in the UK, I consider SSAIN’s and FOE’s long-term aspiration of a 70% recycling rate to be realistic. Basing a waste strategy on a 55% recycling level when, within the life-span of the proposed WTF, much higher recycling levels could be achieved gives me some cause for concern.
The quantity of waste nationwide is reducing, largely because of decreases in excess packaging and increases in re-use, recycling and composting; a trend that is replicated in Derbyshire. In that regard, I note that the Waste Strategy for England 2007 states that the government is going to review its targets for 2015 and 2020 to see if they can be made more ambitious. I accept that there is a limit to the extent of waste
minimisation that can be achieved; for example, some packaging will always be necessary. Nevertheless, there is no reason to suppose that the downwards trend in the amount of municipal waste in Derbyshire will come to a halt in the foreseeable future. Much will depend upon the amount of effort the Councils decide to put into the promotion and encouragement of waste prevention and minimisation.
I am therefore not convinced that within the 25-year life of the proposed WTF there would always be sufficient waste within Derbyshire to justify its capacity. Furthermore, I am concerned that the Councils’ commitment to the WTF, and the WTF’s appetite for waste, could divert efforts and resources away from the promotion and encouragement of waste reduction, re-use, and recycling/composting; the first three stages of the waste hierarchy. In that regard, I am mindful of the recent speech by Caroline Spelman, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in which she emphasised the government’s objective of a zero waste economy, gave a positive message about anaerobic digestion, and stated that, although recycling levels have been moving in the right direction, “it’s the pace that’s the problem”.
In the Decision Document, the Inspector explained:
I have decided that the points in favour of the proposed Waste Treatment Facility do not outweigh the points against it. This is largely because of the substantial weight that I have given to the likely increase in traffic congestion, the significant weight I have given to the adverse effect on the AQMA, and the substantial weight that I have given to the adverse effect on the living conditions of local residents…
WLP policy W4 establishes that, where there is reasonable cause for concern that a proposed waste development would present a threat of serious or irreversible damage to the environment, or to the use or enjoyment of land, it should not be granted planning permission unless conditions could ensure that the damage would be minimised. I have therefore considered whether planning conditions could overcome my concerns. I have decided that, although some of the details of the development could be controlled, the harms to highway conditions, to the AQMA and to living conditions that I have identified could not be controlled.
In reaching my decision I have taken into account all other matters raised, including the government’s emphasis on the importance of localism and local decision-making. For the avoidance of doubt, I can confirm that the weight of local objection has not dictated my decision but it has had a bearing on it.
In an e-mail message to supporters SSAIN’s hard-working Chair, Simon Bacon said:
S.S.A.I.N, as a Rule 6 party at the 12 day inquiry, put across a strong case covering a number of issues including residents’ fear of the proposal and impacts on the local air quality management area (AQMA) for Nitrogen Dioxide.
What has been clearly shown is that the public have a right to stand up to those promoting such controversial incineration proposals. Developers cannot simply expect to walk into a community and force their controversial proposals onto those living in the community. Residents across the UK are now standing up to be counted. Battles rage across the UK using social networks such as Facebook and the UKWIN organisation.