He observed that national policy statements on major infrastructure development set out an urgent national need for more renewable energy and see a role for waste combustion in meeting this. Despite the emphasis on creating a low-carbon economy in paragraph 17 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), he held that the technology proposed for the site should not be ruled out as contrary to the goals of developing low-carbon energy sources.
He accepted that other technologies might be superior from a low-carbon point of view. However, he reasoned that the section 36 process is intended to assess whether the impacts would be acceptable in planning terms, rather then whether there is a better way to generate power or use the site.
Another issue was whether the need to move waste to the site over long distances would be compatible with the NPPF. The secretary of state recognised the environmental advantages of non-road transport for waste delivery to generating stations.
But given the need to preserve the operator's commercial freedom to process waste from different sources, he found that it would be inappropriate to impose restrictions on how much waste should be delivered in particular ways. Instead, he imposed a condition requiring the firm to keep under review the opportunities for using non-road modes of transport for fuel deliveries.
Inspector: Elizabeth Hill; Inquiry