Following on closely from the Secretary of State’s decision to call-in one of their incinerator applications due to various concerns about their proposal, beleaguered Clean Power Properties has been faced with a double whammy today in both England and Wales.
Whilst the website of RLand, advisors to Clean Power Properties, have boasted that: “…Projects are…taken expertly from inception, through planning and development, to full operation and maintenance”, in fact none of CPP’s incineration plants proposed in the UK have ever obtained an Environmental Permit, let alone become operational, and CPP has actually suffered a series of planning failures.
CPP’s Crushing defeat in Cwmgwili, Carmarthenshire
As reported in the local newspaper and elsewhere, those attending the Carmarthenshire County Council planning committee meeting in Wales today (4th February 2016), and those watching the webcast of the meeting, saw the Planning Officer raise various concerns regarding Clean Power Properties’ proposal for a 128ktpa pyrolysis-type incinerator and recommending refusal and the planning committee endorsing the Officer’s Report and recommendations and voting unanimously to reject the plans.
Problems raised in the Committee Report included the failure of the applicant to demonstrate that the proposed pyrolysis-type incinerator would operate as R1 (Recovery) rather than D10 (Disposal), the lack of need for the facility and its environmental impact.
For reasons that are unclear [we can but speculate] the applicant appears to have complained to the Waste Planning Authority about the delay in the processing of the application, meaning the application was decided before various concerns could not be discussed with Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
For example, according to the Addendum to the Committee Report:
“…There are…significant concerns regarding the potential impact of the facility on the health and wellbeing of the local population from emissions to air, particularly (but not exclusively) in relation to chromium (VI), ammonia, dioxins and furans…Again the Authority has not been able to discuss its concerns with NRW. The proposal therefore based on the precautionary principle fails to comply with the rWFD [revised Waste Framework Directive] and planning policy in relation to adverse impacts on health and wellbeing.”
Welcoming today’s vote, the Member of Parliament for Cwmgwili, Jonathan Edwards said:
“Today’s rejection of the planning application is a fantastic achievement for the local action group and a reward for their work in opposing the plan. The community has work tremendously hard, and professionally, to present a strong and clear case for refusing this application. Their work has been fantastic and I offer them my warmest congratulations for their efforts.”
Planning committee member Councillor Kevin Madge also welcomed the decision and called it a “victory” for Cwmgwili residents:
“I am delighted with the result of today’s vote. This scheme would have seen the area become a dumping ground for waste from here and abroad. There would have been a huge environmental impact that would have been unacceptable. The decision is a victory for all people who protested against this incinerator, especially those in Cwmgwili who would have borne the brunt of the development. I only hope that the common sense shown here today prevails if this plan is taken to appeal.”
And Llanelli MP Nia Griffith had also added her voice to the protest and two weeks ago called for planners to reject the bid saying:
“It is clear to me that this is a half-baked proposal that will be very detrimental to the area. To be viable, it would need more black bag waste than currently produced in the whole of south west Wales, all coming in on lorries routed round via the Cross Hands food park, and turning on and off the A48 just past the notorious Cwmgwili junction.”
CPP’s unreasonableness causes cost award in Hampshire
The same technology CPP were trying to get through Planning in Wales appears to have been somewhat abandoned in the rest of the UK. Clean Power Properties has been applying to change the technology they are proposing at the few facilities with planning consent. CPP withdrew all of their Environmental Permit applications, and on several occasions CPP dropped planning appeals at the last minute.
CPP has now TWICE been sanctioned for not giving proper reasons for withdrawing their appeals, raising questions about their operation.
Today the Planning Inspectorate have published the the Secretary of State’s decision of a costs application in relation to CPP’s aborted Micheldever Station planning appeal. The SoS stated:
“…The appeal was against the Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the construction and operation of a 8 MWE Pyrolysis Advanced Conversion Technology (ACT) plant…
In planning and enforcement appeals, the parties are normally expected to meet their own expenses, irrespective of the outcome. Costs are awarded only on the grounds of ‘unreasonable’ behaviour, resulting in unnecessary or wasted expense…In this case, the appeal was withdrawn some 10 months after it was submitted.
When withdrawing the appeal on 15 October 2015 the appellants’ agents did not give any reason for doing so. However, in their response to the costs application they state that ‘due to the nature of the renewables sector and the uncertain and changing funding arrangements for facilities such as the Appeal proposal it was necessary to keep the viability of the project under review at all times. When it became clear that it was not viable to continue with a Public Inquiry the appeal was immediately withdrawn’.
While it is accepted that the appellants would wish to monitor the viability of the proposal, the Secretary of State considers this statement to be very vague as it does not explain precisely what new information came before the appellants to convince them that the proposal was no longer viable. They do not state what specifically happened in the renewables sector and funding arrangements for facilities that prompted them to review their case and withdraw the appeal. Therefore, the Secretary of State cannot be satisfied it has been demonstrated a material change of circumstances occurred since the appeal was submitted to justify the appellants’ decision to withdraw it when they did…
The Secretary of State can reach no other conclusion than the appellants acted unreasonably by withdrawing the appeal when they did, causing the Council to incur wasted or unnecessary in the appeal process. An award of costs will therefore be made…
For these reasons, the Secretary of State concludes that the appellants acted unreasonably and caused the Council to incur wasted or unnecessary expense as a result. A partial award of costs is therefore considered justified in the particular circumstances. “
This is all rather reminiscent of the Costs Order awarding costs to local SNOW* campaigners for Clean Power Property’s withdrawal of their Dudley proposal, which stated:
“…when submitting an appeal, appellants should be confident of
the strength of their case on the proposal made in the application…it is concluded that a partial award of costs against the appellants, on grounds of “unreasonable” behaviour resulting in wasted or unnecessary expense, is justified in the particular circumstances.”