Incinerator gets go-ahead from the High Court: Result and reaction

MBTC-25-03-10-Protest outside Stewartby Village Hall in oppositions to Covanta Energy's incinerator plans
MBTC-25-03-10-Protest outside Stewartby Village Hall in oppositions to Covanta Energy's incinerator plans

Plans to build a incinerator in a Bedfordshire village have been given the green light at the High Court.

Campaign group Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) had challenged the Environment Agency’s decision to issue an operating permit for Covanta’s Rookery Pit Incinerator.

But following a two-day hearing last month the High Court today ruled in the Environment Agency’s favour, meaning the plans can now proceed as planned.

A spokesman for Covanta said: “Covanta is pleased with the court’s decision to uphold the UK Environment Agency’s issuance of the environmental permit for the Rookery project.

“Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facilities like the Rookery South Energy Recovery Facility, are critical in helping the UK achieve national landfill diversion and renewable energy targets.

“EfW facilities are proven to be safe and widely regarded as the best solution for the treatment of waste that cannot be recycled.

“We will provide further updates on the timing of financial close and the commencement of full construction in the near future.”

The project has been controversial among some residents, who have been concerned about the environmental impact as well as the amount of additional traffic.

BACI described the news as a “great disappointment”.

Spokesman Nicola Ryan-Raine said: “In her judgment the judge conceded that Covanta had made a factual and scientific error in its permit application. The judge also acknowledged that the Environment Agency had not made any clarification or disclaimer concerning this error - either during the consultation process or in the decision document.

“She concluded however that she finds that the Environment Agency did not adopt the error into the permit that was issued.

“This campaign has truly been a community effort and has united residents from many different towns and villages in and around the Marston Vale in a common cause.

“If developed the Covanta incinerator could be operating for up to 40 years and will signal the beginning of re-industrialization of the Marston Vale and the end of regeneration of the area.

However Mrs Ryan-Raine added that the campaign was not necessarily now over.

She said: “We will be seeking legal advice regarding the viability of an Appeal against the decision. Our initial feelings are that the reasoning and judgment appears somewhat contradictory and there appears to be reliance on precedents set by other claims that need reviewing in the pollution threatened world we find ourselves in at the moment.

“We will be going through the judgment in more detail and further information will be available on our website https://bedsagainstincinerator.wordpress.com/ shortly.

“Although the current situation is obviously not the best outcome - taking control and taking a statutory regulatory body to court is an achievement in itself - and gives a clear message to both Covanta and the Environment Agency that the public have a voice and will be watching their every move.”

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