The Environment Agency (EA) have notified today, 22nd May, that they have issued a permit for the Javelin Park incinerator. The email notification sent can be read here.
As the notification says, this is separate from the process of obtaining planning permission. Both planning permission and an EA permit are required in order to build an incinerator. As we know, planning permission was unanimously refused on 21st March by the GCC Planning Committee. This still stands. However, there is a real threat that this could be overturned should an appeal go ahead...
We must not be complacent! Only this week, the Trafford Incinerator scheme in Manchester was granted planning permission by Secretary of State Eric Pickles after an Inquiry. This followed Trafford Council originally unanimously refusing planning permission for the proposal back in 2011. A sequence of events that could still yet easily be seen played out in Gloucestershire...
Disappointing but not surprising
The issuing of the permit by the EA is very disappointing. We would very much like the EA to show much greater challenge to proposed schemes that are known to increase pollutant levels massively beyond existing levels, that contribute significantly to climate change, and about which there are very real and valid health concerns.
However, unfortunately, it is also not surprising that the permit has been issued. The EA has rarely, if ever to our knowledge, refuse to issue permits for incinerators. It is an inevitable outcome. Don't be surprised if there are claims from some quarters in the next few days that the granting of the permit by the EA somehow means the incinerator proposal has been vindicated or is valid in some way. This is clearly nonsense given permits are always granted!
The fact remains that planning permission was refused unanimously for this flawed scheme for solid planning reasons. Indeed, GCC has since made strong moves to reassert this rejection of the scheme. On May 15th the newly formed GCC agreed to both defend its decision to refuse planning permission if challenged, and, to immediately set up a cross-party group to look into alternatives to the incinerator. Read more from SNJ here.