Court of Appeal upholds IPC's Rookery South approval

Plans for an energy from waste facility in Bedfordshire, submitted under the nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) regime, have been given the green light by the Court of Appeal.

Rookery South: Appeal Court backs 2011 approval
Rookery South: Appeal Court backs 2011 approval

The Rookery South plant, proposed for a site near Stewartby, is projected to have capacity to handle 585,000 tonnes of residual waste every year and to produce 65 MWe of energy.

Development consent was granted by the now abolished Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) in 2011 to Covanta Rookery South Limited.

And, in a special procedure, the decision was in 2013 endorsed by a Parliamentary Joint Committee which was established specially to consider the scheme.

But Covanta's commercial rivals, FCC Environment (UK) Limited, mounted a High Court challenge to the consent.

It argued that the commission failed to give adequate reasons for its conclusion that there was a 'compelling case in the public interest' for the exercise of compulsory acquisition powers to allow the scheme to proceed.

FCC Enviroment submitted that there were "reasonable alternatives" to compulsory acquisition and that the decision was based on out of date environmental information.

The company's complaints were, however, rejected by a High Court judge and its challenge to that ruling has now been dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Lord Justice Sullivan said that, although part of the judge's reasoning was flawed, that had no impact on the outcome of the case.

The IPC did not fall into the error of saying that the 'urgent' need for such facilities was by itself enough to outweigh the adverse impact in visual and other terms.

It had properly considered whether the need could be met on alternative sites or in an alternative way which would not require compulsory acquisition of land, said the judge.

R on the Application of FCC Enviroment (UK) Limited v Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Case Number: C1/2014/0666

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