Waste giant, Veolia ES (UK) Ltd, wants to build a plant capable of processing up to 85,000 tonnes of waste annually on land off Pickerings Road, Widnes. The site was formerly used by a demolition contractor and scrap metal company.
Halton Borough Council granted planning permission for the scheme, allowing a change in the site's use, in January - but now Mrs Justice Lieven has overturned that decision.
Councillors, she said, did not have all the information they needed to make up their own minds about Veolia's proposal.
The ruling is a victory for Hale Bank Parish Council, which says the development will send well over 100 heavy lorries through a residential area daily.
The parish council has fought the plans, expressing "extreme concern" about the impact of noise, odour and traffic on local residents. It says increased nitrogen dioxide levels would pose a threat to human health.
Ruling on the case, the judge noted that the site is not allocated as a waste handling site in the local development plan.
An alternative site, at Widnes Waterfront, has been allocated and the parish council says it is "fully available" for development.
Unlike Widnes Waterfront, the Pickerings Road site "can only be accessed through a residential area," the court heard.
The judge said Halton councillors had been told that Veolia had "supplied sufficient information" to show the project's compliance with local planning policies.
But a planning officer's report told them "nothing about why, or on what basis" that was the case, and the judge added: "The members were therefore not in a position to make up their own minds."
Veolia said the site was close to its depot and that Widnes Waterfront and other allocated sites were "not considered suitable".
But the judge said: "There was no investigation, or even consideration, of the suitability or availability of alternative sites."
The council had simply accepted Veolia's assertion that no alternative site was suitable and "asked no further questions."
The planning permission was overturned.
Hale Bank Parish Council v Halton Borough Council. Case Number: CO/1023/2019