On Tuesday December 16th, Veolia Environmental Services will challenge the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in the High Court. Veolia are challenging the Sec of State’s decision to refuse planning permission for a waste incinerator on the New Barnfield site in Hatfield. The court will not consider the merits or otherwise of the incinerator proposal, but only the legal basis for the Secretary of State’s decision. The Secretary of State and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council will defend his decision.
The Secretary of State made his decision in July 2014, and he supported the recommendation by Planning Inspector Richards who led the Public Inquiry into the proposed incinerator in autumn 2013. The Inspector's report recommended to the Sec of State that he should reject Veolia’s planning application.
A key part of Veolia’s challenge has already been defeated, as a court ruling in October 2014 ruled that “any other harm” caused by a development does not mean only harm to the Green Belt, but includes other harm. Harm to the Green Belt and other harm, including harm to the setting of Hatfield House, were among reasons for Inspector Richards' rejection of planning permission.
Veolia’s case for the incinerator is also weakened by the decision of the Government (Defra), in Oct 2014, to withdraw the PFI (Private Finance Initiative) credits that would have funded the incinerator, on the grounds that there is no need for additional incinerator capacity in order to meet targets to reduce landfill.
If the Court were to accept Veolia's case, that ruling would only grant access to a re-determination by the Secretary of State, who can again refuse planning permission.
Some campaigners will be attending the court case to listen. The case will be heard in the High Court, on the Strand, London. Court sessions begin at 10 a.m. The case is scheduled for Dec 16th and Dec 17th.
Cathy Roe, Secretary of Hatfield against Incineration, said, “We would like some residents to attend this important court case. We expect Veolia’s challenge to be unsuccessful. We are determined that once the incinerator proposal is totally defeated, Herts County Council must go on to adopt methods of management of waste that minimise harm to people and the environment. We urge HCC to fully implement their policy of ‘reduce, re-use, re-cycle’.”