Council loses Avonmouth incinerator High Court battle

Bristol City Council has lost a High Court challenge to communities secretary Eric Pickles' grant of planning permission for an energy-from-waste plant in Avonmouth.

Verdict: judge ruled that Pickles was entitled to reach the decision he had
Verdict: judge ruled that Pickles was entitled to reach the decision he had
The council – which refused to grant planning permission despite its own planning officer recommending approval – had asked Mr Justice Collins in London to quash the communities secretary's decision to give the go-ahead for the facility at Severn Road, Avonmouth, in April, and order him to have the matter reconsidered.

However, the judge has now ruled that the decision should stand.

He rejected the council’s claim that Pickles erred by giving too much weight to the possibility that the facility could ultimately be capable of providing combined heat and power (CHP) in the future. CHP could be used to heat industry, hospitals, schools, local authority housing or large commercial premises in the area, but would require pipework to be installed to connect the facility.

The council had argued that the environmental statement on which the communities secretary relied did not assess the likely significant environmental effects of CHP pipework being  installed, and that Pickles was wrong to find that the development would be in accordance with national and regional planning policy.

However, the judge ruled that Pickles was entitled to reach the decision he had.

The council says that the facility – which will process 350,000 tonnes of waste a year to provide electricity for the National Grid – will lead to an over-concentration of waste recovery in the Avonmouth area, and lead to excessive traffic.

Commenting on the judgment, Viridor’s head of planning and permitting, Ian John, said: "The challenge to overturn the secretary of state’s decision to grant planning permission was made on three grounds relating to the scope of the project's Environmental Impact Assessment, the planning policy for the area and the awarding of costs against the council resulting from the inquiry.

"We are pleased that the challenge was dismissed on all three counts. We will continue to work on the submissions required by the planning permission so we can commence work on site as soon as possible and deliver this much-needed infrastructure project."

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