Sustainability

Gloucestershire County Council refuses incinerator

Javelin Park

The planning committee at Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) unanimously rejected Urbaser Balfour Beatty’s (UBB’s) Javelin Park incinerator last Thursday (21 March).

Despite previously being recommended to approve the facility, 18 councillors rejected the controversial plans for Javelin Park, after an 11-hour planning meeting was held at Kingsholm Stadium.

An appeal was quickly announced the following day by UBB, however, meaning a government planning inspector is now likely to be called in to decide the ultimate fate of the plans.

‘Unanimous decision’

The planning meeting regarding the incinerator heard from the public, MPs and the planning committee, many of whom questioned the aesthetics of the plant and the potentially harmful effects it could cause, as well as incineration’s detrimental impacts on recycling rates.

The debate also heard from representatives from UBB and from BPP Consultants, with BPP’s David Payne claiming the benefits of the incinerator, such as its diverting waste from landfill and recovering energy, all outweigh the harm.

Towards the end of the debate, Councillor Ceri Jones argued that the proposed plant “is not a modern waste management proposal”, adding that by 2040 “technology will have moved on leaps and bounds and we will be left with something inflexible”. Jones concluded the debate with the ominous statement: "We could be destroying our children's future."

At 9.11 p.m. the unanimous decision for refusal was made. While other reasons were also cited in the refusal, the rejection focused mainly on the visual impact the structure would have on the Severn Vale landscape.

‘Very disappointing on many levels’

Councillor Stan Waddington, who has championed the project within the GCC’s cabinet, expressed disappointment with the decision. He said: “The Planning Committee has made a decision based on several concerns with the proposed incinerator’s prominence as a building.

“This is only one part of a detailed proposal, which has been supported by the full council on five separate occasions, where all 63 councillors have had the opportunity to have their say.

“We can’t go on putting our rubbish in holes in the ground. It’s neither environmentally friendly nor fair on the people who have to live next to landfill. We also cannot rely on shipping our waste to other places to deal with.

“We must have a safe, clean and environmentally friendly way to dispose of our rubbish that can’t readily be recycled – which is exactly what this facility at Javelin Park would provide.”

Javier Peiro, Project Director for UBB, voiced his opinion that the decision was “very disappointing on many levels”, stating: “The proposals for a energy-from-waste facility at Javelin Park were developed in order to assist the county in taking responsibility for its own waste.

“Moreover, the proposed development is entirely consistent with the council’s own recently adopted Waste Core Strategy.

“UBB remains contracted to dispose of Gloucestershire’s residual waste and in light of this decision we are considering our options.”

Controversial plans

GCC awarded UBB the contract to build and operate an energy-from-waste facility at Javelin Park in September 2012. The 25-year waste contract, estimated to be worth approximately £500 million, was intended to see the site process up to 190,000 tonnes of residual waste a year, with the aim of reducing the amount of refuse sent to landfill.

Since the contract was announced, there has been much opposition from local residents, as well as from Stroud District Council. A motion was passed by SDC in February 2013, agreeing to investigate withholding the council’s waste from GCC, in opposition to the incinerator plans. The investigation was called for as the council felt its unanimous vote for the GCC to reconsider its plans to incinerate waste had ‘fallen on deaf ears’.

Protestors have also shown their intense opposition to the Javelin Park incinerator, with an event on 14 March attracting 300 activists, who brandished banners outside the site to signal concerns regarding the aesthetics of the plant and its harmful effects.

Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of the UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN), told Resource: "Gloucestershire campaigners have really pulled out all the stops to secure a unanimous decision to refuse planning permission for the incinerator that was proposed for Javelin Park.

“The five reasons for refusal look strong, and were subject to legal advice from council solicitors. I believe the refusal would stand up to an appeal, and that it is now unlikely that this incinerator project will go ahead."

Read more about the Javelin Park incinerator planning meeting.