10 December 2002

Biffa landfill is factor in future of SITA Energy-from-Waste plant in Surrey

Surrey county council must decide next week whether to pursue its planned incinerator project at Capel, after a judicial review blocked the project.

Local activists in the Capel Action Group took the issue to the High Court and won their case last month. The detailed judgement was handed down last week and is thought to centre on whether there was a council flaw in the planning process for the plant.

A spokeswoman for the county’s waste contractor SITA said: “We can’t comment until we have discussed it. But the judicial review is with the county council, which has 10 days from the date of receiving it to decide whether to reapply. It is for county council rather than SITA to decide that.”

Following the judgement, the council must reconsider the matter in the light of the issues on which it lost the judicial review, which in effect is likely to mean that it has to seek planning permission again.
The action group convinced the judge on three main points.

The most contentious is understood to be that officers did not go back to elected members to review the 110,000 tonnes per year project when it became apparent that Biffa’s Patterson Court landfill site could take more household waste than had been thought. The 65 hectares site near Redhill accepts approximately 1,200 tonnes of waste per day.

Huge hole
One councillor said: “Patterson Court is a huge hole in the ground. Longer term there may still be a need for something like Capel but it is not as urgent as it was.”

Other issues raised by the objectors were alleged misapplication of the proximity principle, since Capel is at the southern extremity of the county, and failure by Surrey to follow its own plan by opting for a site with no previous waste use.
A county council spokeswoman said: “We have had the judicial review decision, which found against us. We are looking into the judgement in detail.”

The protesters had been supported by Mole Valley council, which donated 8,000 to the action group, the bulk of it towards the costs of pursuing the judicial review. Mole Valley is planning its own materials recycling facility.

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