Bristol chief hits out at Pickles' 'localism cloak'

Bristol City Council's planning chief has accused the communities secretary of 'cynically kicking a huge Westminster boot' through local decision-making after he overturned the authority's decision to refuse permission for a waste incinerator plant.

Letter to the ministry: A Bristol planning chief has accused the communities department's Eric Pickles of ignoring local wishes.
Letter to the ministry: A Bristol planning chief has accused the communities department's Eric Pickles of ignoring local wishes.
In a letter to Eric Pickles, Anthony Negus, executive member for planning at Bristol City Council, expressed his "amazement" at the communities secretary’s decision to give the go-ahead to an energy from waste plant in Avonmouth, following a public inquiry last November. "This cynically kicks a huge Westminster boot through our treasured system of locally-accountable rights," he said.

Negus added: "Your localism seems a flimsy cloak for yet more centrist diktat characterised in this case by the imposition of unnecessary and unwanted polluting plants against the express wishes of local people and elected, accountable local councillors."

The Viridor scheme had been thrown out by councillors on the grounds that it would lead to an over-concentration of strategic waste provision in the area, despite planning officers recommending its approval.

In his letter, first reported by local online newspaper Bristol 24/7, Liberal Democrat councillor Negus said: "There was huge popular support for throwing out the mass-burn incinerator."

He said that Bristol City Council has made provision to treat its area’s waste with a range of clean and efficient modern plants and that the waste incinerator plant "will not be needed" and would be "dirtier and more expensive".

"As a direct result of your action the plant would need to import waste for burning from all over the country in order to be commercially viable, trampling over this council’s commitments to its taxpayers."

jamie.carpenter@haymarket.com

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