The scheme included re-profiling, revised sequence of landfill phasing and restoration works, extension of the operational life of an existing leachate treatment facility and landfill gas utilisation plant. The secretary of state agreed that the proposal would represent inappropriate development in the green belt and that this was by definition harmful. The secretary of state also agreed that the proposal would cause temporary harm to the openness of the green belt, but would not affect its permanence and not harm the purposes for including land within it. In accordance with the NPPF he attached substantial weight to this harm. The proposals were though found to support the beneficial use of the green belt through the provision of access and opportunities for sport and recreation and through improving damaged or derelict land.
The secretary of state found that there would be no significant harm in respect of air quality but concluded that there would be harm to the living conditions of nearby residents in a number of respects which would be mitigated to some extent but not negated. The extension of operations to 2025 would result in continuing harm to routes leading to the site, particularly in respect of heavy goods vehicle traffic.
It was also found that there might remain a need for continued landfilling at the site in the short term to secure acceptable restoration of the site and to meet the needs of Merseyside and Halton until a 30 year resource recovery contract became fully operational, probably in 2016 or 2017. However, the need for the site beyond about 2017 was not compelling.
Having had regard to the setting aside by the court of appeal on 9th October of the Redhill Aerodrome Ltd v SoS high court judgment, overall the secretary of State concluded that the harm by reason of inappropriateness in the green belt and the other harm identified was not clearly outweighed by other considerations so as to amount to the very special circumstances necessary to justify the development.
Inspector: Alan Boyland; Inquiry