The rejected incinerator plans that could result in legal challenge to Essex County Council

The county council has summarised its reasons for refusing plans for an incinerator ahead of an expected legal challenge from the company behind it.

Essex County Council has agreed arguments for refusing the plans at Archers Fields, which if approved would have seen an incinerator capable of burning up to 150,000 tonnes of waste a year built.

The council says 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.

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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.

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 agreed the facility - which would operate 24 hours a day - would have a severe impact on the environment and the physical and mental health of people in the area.

Committee member Councillor Jeff Henry said at a meeting on June 28: "I think it is a pretty good summation of what we as a committee discussed last month. I think the opening statement articulated pretty much the sense of rejection the community has for this and also the visit helped considerably - I didn't know the site even through I'm local.

"We wouldn't have been able to make an informed decision had we not done that. I welcome the report and the recommendation and I think it is a good calculation of everything we discussed last time."