22 July 2019 by Will Date

Veolia’s Herts ERF refused planning permission

Veolia’s plans for a 320,000 tonnes per year energy from waste (EfW) plant at Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire have been turned down by the Housing and Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire.

The secretary of state’s decision comes despite the Planning Inspector having recommended approval for the plant after the plans were called in for review in early 2018 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Mr Brokenshire rejected the plans on the basis that they would have ‘significant adverse landscape and visual impacts’ on the local environment as well as impacts on local highways.

On the likely effect of the proposals to traffic and highways, the minister raised concerns over the access to the site by heavy goods vehicles as well as the potential for vehicles to encroach on nearby third-party land.

Impression of the proposed ERF (right) within the Hoddesdon landscape

Impact

While the secretary of state also agreed with the Planning Inspector’s conclusion that the development would ‘not have significant adverse landscape or visual impacts’ from most vantage points, he noted that there would be a significant adverse landscape impact in relation to the nearest part of the Lee Valley Regional Park.

James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, who has had the final say on planning permission for the facility

Setting out the decision in a letter to Veolia, government planning official Maria Stasiak, wrote: “The Secretary of State considers that the significant adverse landscape and visual impacts, which as well as being in conflict with the development plan are also in conflict with emerging plan policies, policies of the Epping Forest Local Plan, policies of the Lee Valley Park Plan, and the Framework, carry considerable weight against the proposal.

“He further considers that highways matters, including those on safety, carry substantial weight against the proposal.”

A Veolia spokesperson, said: “We are disappointed with the decision and will work with Hertfordshire county council to consider our options.”

Veolia’s plans for an energy from waste plant in Hertfordshire have been in the pipeline for several years, with the company having initially put forward plans a plant at a site at New Barnfield, to fulfil an £800 million waste contract with the county council. However, planning permission for this facility was overturned in summer 2015, following a drawn-out political battle over the development of the plant.

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. This involved an alternative proposal put forward by the company for the Hoddesdon facility, with the council agreeing to a minimum guaranteed tonnage of 125,000 tonnes per year.

Contract

Provisions in the council’s contract with Veolia allow the company to consider its next steps upon the rejection of the planning application. Either party has the right to terminate the contract for planning failure, which could result in a payment of £1.37 million from the council to Veolia.

Hertfordshire currently has in place a number of short term ‘bridging’ contracts for the management of the 250,000 tonnes of municipal residual waste currently produced in the county. These were anticipated to be needed up to summer 2023 when it was expected the Hoddesdon facility would be operational.

“We’re running out of options for dealing with the county’s waste. We currently transport hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste to other parts of the country for treatment which is expensive and bad for the environment.”

Hertfordshire council

Contracts include sending 60,000 tonnes of waste to FCC’s Greatmoor ERF and Bletchley landfill site, 10,000 tonnes to the London Energy EfW at Edmonton, 50,000 tonnes to Veolia’s Springfield landfill site, and 75,000 tonnes to Viridor’s Ardley ERF.

In a statement the council said: “We’re very disappointed with the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse planning permission for Veolia’s planned Energy Recovery Facility in Hoddesdon. With 100,000 new homes expected in Hertfordshire in the next 15 years we urgently need waste treatment capacity in Hertfordshire and if Veolia can’t now build their planned facility we’re left with a significant problem.

“We’re running out of options for dealing with the county’s waste. We currently transport hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste to other parts of the country for treatment which is expensive and bad for the environment. We will now need to take some time to consider our options.”

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