Veolia’s plans for an Energy from Waste (EfW) facility in Hoddesdon have come under further pressure as the vast majority of the 97 responses to its likely environmental permit are negative.
The comments came in newly-published responses to a consultation from the Environment Agency, which has said it is “minded to accept” the environmental permit for the 300,000 tonne facility.
The Agency said it had considered the application and “accepted the details are sufficient and satisfactory to make the standard condition appropriate”. However, it said in August 2018 that when issuing the permit consultation that its “mind remains open at this stage” and vowed to “carefully” take into account the responses.
Most of the responses received were from residents, who reiterated previously expressed concerns over air quality, traffic, odour and house prices, among other concerns.
Other responses criticised the fact that the Agency issued a draft acceptance of the plan before the report back of the public inquiry – held earlier this summer into the plant. The Veolia Hoddesdon project was called in in February by the then housing and local government secretary of state Sajid Javid with the public inquiry following and a government decision still awaited.
Several residents pointed to the timing of the consultation, criticising the fact it fell during the summer holiday months and a perceived lack of advertising and publicity about the consultation. The Agency however, says it advertised the consultation online and through advertisements in local newspapers.
However, in what could give some hope to protestors against the 350,000 tonne plant, the Agency has reiterated that is it still undecided.
“We will make our final decision only after carefully taking into account any relevant matter raised in the responses we receive,” the Agency said.
It added: “Our mind remains open at this stage: although we believe we have covered all the relevant issues and reached a reasonable conclusion, our ultimate decision could yet be affected by any information that is relevant to the issues we have to consider.”
Veolia’s aim to have an energy recovery facility in Hertfordshire has been ongoing for a number of years.
Plans for a plant were originally put forward by the resources and waste firm for a site at New Barnfield, to fulfil an £800 million waste contract with the county council. However, planning permission was overturned in summer 2015, following a drawn-out political battle over the development of the facility.
The Barnfield plant itself was granted planning permission by Hertfordshire in 2012. DCLG then overturned the council’s decision in July 2014 after the application was called in by then Secretary of State Eric Pickles.
In 2016, the company signed a revised 30-year contract with the county council worth £1 billion to treat the 350,000 tonnes of household residual waste generated in the county each year (see letsrecycle.com story).
In February 2018, the plans for the current facility were called in by Mr Javid after the plans were approved by Hertfordshire county council last year (see letsrecycle.com story).
Both the council and executives at Veolia criticised that decision.
In a statement, Veolia said it was mindful of residents concerns.
“We are mindful of local concerns and we do everything we can to demonstrate how these developments rely upon Environment Agency and other statutory body approvals, as well as state of the art technology providers, to ensure public safety and the latest health and safety and environmental performance requirements,” a spokesperson said.
They added: “Residents can be assured that Environmental Permits are only granted to energy recovery facilities following rigorous scrutiny and independent health authorities confirm this is safe. The site will be operated within stringent regulations and continuously monitored.”