Covanta: “This is a scandalous decision”

A protest against the incinerator held before the decision was made
A protest against the incinerator held before the decision was made

Two councils have united to condemn news that the Covanta incinerator for Stewartby has been given the green light by the government.

The Covanta proposal is for a 585,000 tonne per annum waste to energy and material recovery facility at Rookery Pit, Stewartby.

It would burn rubbish from other counties’ authorities at the site, and has been opposed by residents and local MPs alike.

Both Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council objected to the proposal from the outset. The decision made by the Infrastructure Planning Committee (IPC) was to allow the development. However, because the development consent order involved the compulsory purchase of land owned by the councils it was subject to special parliamentary procedure.

The two councils have jointly presented their objections, which is done through petitions, to a joint committee of the two Houses of Parliament, the committe sat for seven days, but announced that there was no case to answer.

Councillor Sarah-Jayne Holland, portfolio holder for community and regulatory services at Bedford Borough Council, said: “This is a scandalous decision and an absolute kick in the teeth for local people.

“Incredibly, the committee appears to have completely ignored the concerns raised by the thousands of local people who have signed petitions and campaigned vigorously against this monstrous incinerator for the last few years.

“Covanta have said the plant will be able to process nearly 600,000 tonnes of rubbish per year, compared to the average output of Bedford Borough which is just 50,000 tonnes. The Marston Vale has been a dumping ground for London and other areas for generations, and now Covanta wants to condemn local communities to a future in the shadow of a massive incinerator burning rubbish from anywhere right across in the country.

She added: “This decision by the Special Parliamentary Committee in Whitehall disregards the wishes of local people and the decisions taken by locally elected representatives and burdens Bedfordshire with a huge, oversized incinerator for generations to come.”

There is a further meeting of the committee on Wednesday to discuss an amendment to the development consent order dealing with the councils’ proposal in respect of the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway.

Councillr Nigel Young, executive member for sustainable communities (strategic planning and economic development)at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “We are very disappointed with the result of the special parliamentary procedure.

“However, it was absolutely right that we represented our communities by challenging all aspects of the plan at the highest possible level. We have consistently maintained that the impacts of the Rookery South scheme on the environment, local communities and the road network outweigh the benefits.

“We have made every effort to ensure that affected communities were widely consulted and their views taken into account. I’m sure they will be as disappointed as we are.”

He added: “We continue to firmly believe that this is not a sustainable development. There is no local demand for it and we remain very concerned about the level of traffic that will be added to the area when waste is shipped in. We will work now to fight for the amendment to the development consent order.”