RESULT OF VEOLIA’S LEGAL CHALLENGE TO SECRETARY OF STATE OVER NEW
BARNFIELD INCINERATOR PLAN
On Jan 22nd Justice Holgate handed down his decision concerning Veolia’s
legal challenge to the decision by the Secretary of State in July 2014
that Veolia should be refused planning permission to build an
incinerator at New Barnfield. He decided that “the challenge succeeds,
but only on ground 1. Consequently the decision of the Secretary of
State dated 7 July 2014 refusing Veolia's application for planning
permission must be quashed by the Court.”
This decision is definitely not a decision that the incinerator can go
Justice Holgate’s decision was made on just one of the legal grounds put
forward by Veolia, that the Secretary of State’s decision letter against
Veolia’s planning application did not make clear enough that he had
considered fully the consequences of the allocation of the New Barnfield
site in the Herts Waste Sites Allocations Plan, which was approved
shortly after the Sec of State’s decision.
Justice Holgate’s decision could now be appealed by the Secretary of
State, and he could possibly be joined by Welwyn Hatfield Borough
Council. We will know soon if there is to be an appeal.
If there is no appeal, the question of Planning Permission for the
incinerator goes back to the Secretary of State, to make a new decision
on the balance between factors for and against.
The Secretary of State may still refuse planning permission.
There is no time limit on the Sec of State to come up with a new
Parties opposed to the incinerator are likely to make submissions to the
Secretary of State about a number of factors since his decision that
strengthen the case against an incinerator, such as lack of need (shown
by the withdrawal of PFI funding), and changes in planning policy,
including those that strengthen the Green Belt.
Also, Herts County Council need not necessarily press on with the
incinerator plan, even if approved by the Sec of State. HCC has already
asked Veolia for a Revised Project Plan. The contract states they can
evaluate whether to go with the RPP or the original New Barnfield plan,
even if permission for the incinerator were to be actually granted.
Alternatively, Herts County Council could break their contract with
Veolia (at a cost of £1.2 million, which is not large in terms of HCC
expenditure). Herts County Council already has contracts in place for
“interim” management of the county’s residual waste at incinerators in
Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Herts County Council could decide to
extend these contracts, or to deal with residual waste in alternative
Hatfield against Incineration are of course disappointed at the January
22nd judgement, especially as it may lead to prolonged effort and
expense by those opposed to the incinerator plan. This judgement is,
however, a setback and not a defeat. HAI expect the New Barnfield
incinerator will never be built.