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Plans for a state-of-the-art energy-from-waste plant and recycling facility – which are considered to be of ‘national significance’ – have received the green light after the Court of Appeal rejected a challenge to the scheme.
The plant was projected to have capacity to handle 585,000 tonnes of residual waste every year. Development consent was granted by the since abolished Infrastructure Planning Commission and compulsory acquisition of substantial tracts of land to make way for the facility was also approved. Under a special procedure, the decision was ultimately endorsed by a Parliamentary Joint Committee.
A commercial rival of the company behind the scheme challenged the consent, arguing that the commission failed to give adequate reasons for its conclusion that there was a ‘compelling case in the public interest’ for the exercise of compulsory acquisition powers. It was submitted that ‘reasonable alternatives’ which would not involve compulsory purchase had not been considered and that the decision was based on out-of-date environmental information.
Those complaints were rejected by a judge and, in dismissing an appeal against that decision, the Court noted that the commission had not fallen into the error of assuming that the ‘urgent’ need for such facilities was by itself enough to outweigh the adverse impact in visual and other terms.
The commission had considered whether the need could be met on alternative sites or in an alternative way which would not require compulsory acquisition. The option of dispersing facilities across a number of smaller sites was also taken into account before the commission concluded that the scheme was the only viable alternative in terms of both delivery and timescale.