Council set to agree defence against potential incinerator planning appeal

Details of how a council could defend a potential legal challenge against the decision to refuse plans for an incinerator in Basildon are set to be agreed by Essex County Council. Planning officers at Essex County Council have now set out what they see as the best arguments ahead of an expected legal challenge from the company wanting to build an incinerator at Archers Fields capable of burning up to 150,000 tonnes of waste a year.

They say the proposed development, by reason of its scale and form, would cause an over-development and industrialisation of the location causing harm to the visual amenity neighbouring residential areas. They add there is inadequate information to demonstrate the development would not harm the physical and mental well-being of residents living within the vicinity of the site.

Additionally, they say there is inadequate information to demonstrate the development would not harm biodiversity and inadequate pre-application engagement has taken place and should have been carried out over a wider area, given the nature of the proposal.

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The decision in May - despite plans recommended for approval by officers - came three months after being deferred so councillors could get more information before a decision was made. The longer-term plans for the Archers Fields incinerator capable of burning up to 150,000 tonnes of waste a year remain unclear following a decision by the Government to temporarily halt issuing permits for new incinerator plants - such as would be required even with planning permission.

The energy from waste (EFW) facility on the Burnt Mills Industrial Estate in Archers Fields would burn non-hazardous residual waste to generate 11 megawatts of power – enough for 20,000 homes. Waste gases would be discharged through two chimneys 50 metres high.

The company behind it, Archers Field Energy Recovery Ltd says non-hazardous waste from businesses in the local area already comes into the industrial estate to be recycled at its existing Clearaway facility. However, not all of the material can be recycled so currently some have to be sent to landfill.

But Essex County Council’s planning committee heard the facility - which would operate 24 hours a day - would have a severe impact on physical and mental health.

Committee member Councillor Jeff Henry said at the time: "This area has a consistently long history of feeling got at, feeling unheard, and feeling unrepresented. The fact that adjacent wards have not been consulted - by that I mean something through their doors asking we want to hear from you - because this concerns people.”

In accordance with the Committee Protocol, a formal decision on the application was deferred until a later meeting of the Committee. The deferral was to allow officers to provide an appropriate and reasonable recommendation, based on planning policy, setting out the reasons for refusal in full.

The meeting on June 28 is expected to be refused as per recommendations.