EXCLUSIVE: Councillors on Essex county council’s development committee are being advised to reject planning permission for a second version of the Rivenhall waste management facility.
And, Essex county council has today denied being in any breach of rules about publishing of local authority views during an election period.
The planning refusal recommendation from chief planning officer, Richard Greaves, relates to the height of the plant’s chimney stack, which he says could have an “unacceptable impact” on the character of the local landscape.
Height of the stack has been problematic for the project. Gent Fairhead which is developing the proposed 595,000 tonnes per annum facility, has already gained planning permission for a version of the plant in 2010, with a lower stack height of 35m.
But the Environment Agency has favoured a taller stack height and granted a permit for a 58m high stack. A process is underway now with the Agency looking at revised plans and technology for the lower height stack which, according to the developers, would meet concerns about not having a higher stack.
Alongside the permit work, developers Gent Fairhead with energy from waste firm Indaver, have taken a dual track approach to securing permission for the energy from waste plant by submitting another version of the planning application with a proposed stack of 58m.
However, councillors are now being recommended to refuse planning permission for this application at a planning committee meeting of Essex county council later this month.
A meeting document states that one of the reasons for the recommendation is that “It has not been demonstrated that the increase in stack height and the use of the reflective materials would not have an unacceptable impact on the quality and character of the landscape, countryside and visual environment contrary”.
Responding, developer Indaver said it believes the recommendation and the decision to take the application to committee in April “to be premature”.
“In the upcoming local elections, there are candidates who are basing their campaign on opposing the IWMF so this decision could unfairly influence the election results one way or another.”Spokesperson
Indaver claims that “in the upcoming local elections, there are candidates who are basing their campaign on opposing the IWMF so this decision could unfairly influence the election results one way or another”.
The company also explains that it has undertaken public engagement and responded to requests from the public to undertake further studies – the results of these studies “will not be available until May”, it says. “Therefore, we are surprised that a recommendation has been made prior to the publication of these completed studies.”
Because of this, the company says “allowing further time before deciding the planning application would also allow this process to conclude”.
When contacted by letsrecycle.com in regard to Indaver’s views regarding the timing of the recommendation, Essex county council said that by publishing the recommendation during the election period, it is not in breach of the rules around publications during an election period.
The Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF), set to be built in the footprint of a quarry on a former airfield, is designed to burn solid recovered fuel and refuse derived fuel.