Javelin Park incinerator plans approved

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles has approved plans for a controversial incinerator to be built in Gloucestershire.

Gloucestershire councillors call for meeting on Javelin Park
Artist's impression of the Javelin Park incinerator

The proposed energy-from-waste facility at Javelin Park, near Haresfield, forms part of Urbaser Balfour Beatty’s (UBB) waste contract with the council (estimated to be worth approximately £500 million).

Developed to divert more than 90 per cent of Gloucestershire’s household residual waste (around 190,000 tonnes) from landfill, the incinerator will burn the waste to produce electricity. UBB claims that the energy recovery plant will also recover a total of 3,000 tonnes of metal through its sorting process, generate enough electricity to power approximately 26,000 homes, and save the council £150 million in landfill and energy costs over the next 25 years.

Permission decision

Plans for the incinerator were first approved in 2013 by the Conservative-led local authority, but were scuppered by delays in planning permission. Following a change in local government, the new council’s planning committee refused planning consent for the incinerator on the grounds that, by the end of the waste contract, the technology would be antiquated and ‘inflexible’. However, when UBB appealed the council’s decision, the application was called in for inquiry by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

There were concerns for the incinerator’s future viability after Pickles delayed his decision on the planning application three times (a decision was first expected to be reached in September 2014, but this was delayed until late November and then again until ‘before or on 22 December 2014’) and the council had begun looking into alternatives to the incinerator, but yesterday (6 January) DCLG wrote to the council to let it know the Secretary of State's final decision.

According to the letter, Pickles approved UBB’s appeal as he found that 'a number of matters weigh in the balance in favour of the appeal proposal, namely the contribution to the Government’s overall energy policy and climate change programme, to which he attributes considerable weight; management of waste that is now consigned to landfill further up the waste hierarchy, to which he attributes considerable weight; a significant contribution towards a recently establish quantitative need for residual waste recover capacity [a claim disputed by environmental consultancy Eunomia, which argues that the UK could be heading towards energy-from-waste ‘overcapacity’], to which he attributes considerable weight; and the adverse consequences of the appeal not succeeding, to which he attributes some weight'.

The letter added that dismissing the appeal would have resulted in 'a delay of some years at least in moving away from disposal to landfill of the County’s residual municipal solid waste'.

As such, planning permission for the energy-from-waste plant has been granted.

Making a positive contribution to the effects of climate change’

UBB has welcomed the decision, with Javier Peiro, Project Director for UBB, stating: “We are delighted with the Secretary of State’s decision to agree to the construction of the facility. The proposals were found to be in-line with the relevant planning policy and Gloucestershire County Council’s Waste Core Strategy.  UBB looks forward to working with the people of Gloucestershire to deliver the facility which will help divert up to 92 per cent of the county’s residual waste from landfill while generating enough electricity to power around 26,000 homes.

“We will be working with Gloucestershire County Council to make sure the project brings as many opportunities for the local people and the economy as possible and make a positive contribution to the effects of climate change.”

It is expected that construction will begin on the plant as soon as possible, creating around 300 jobs. Once the facility is up and running, it is estimated that around 40 people will be employed there.

Councillor Ray Theodoulou, Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet member for waste, said: "Today's decision means the rubbish we can't recycle can be disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

"Our aim is to reach 70 per cent recycling across the county and stop burying waste in the ground completely. As well as this new facility, Gloucestershire will also be using anaerobic digestion to treat food waste and recycling more. This all takes us a huge step closer."

Councillor Nigel Moor, Chair of the Planning Committee, stated that although the committee “robustly defended its decision to an independent inspector at the public inquiry last year”, it “acknowledge[s] today's announcement”.

Some of the other campaigners opposing the plant, such as GlosVAIN, have said they are 'devastated' by the decision, and that it was 'terrible news'.

Find out more about the Javelin Park facility.

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