Last week, the High Court in Manchester was the battle-ground for the future of clean air in Greater Manchester. Trafford Council had Appealed against the Government’s decision to allow planning permission for the controversial Barton Renewable Energy Plant. The Judge’s decision will be announced on 24th February.
Trafford Council had unanimously rejected planning permission in November 2011, but a Public Inquiry in November 2012 had reversed that decision. Mr Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had also decided in favour of the Incinerator’s proposers, Peel Energy.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Pete Kilvert, Chairman of the Breathe Clean Air Group, “that the terms of reference for the Appeal were limited. They could only consider how much waste wood there would be available to burn; whether the available waste would should be burnt for energy, recycled, or buried in a landfill site; and whether Peel Energy had satisfied the law about the incinerator providing heat as well as electricity.”
“The crucial issue is the danger to human health which was not one of the issues considered,” said Mr Kilvert. “This is because all Barristers at the Public Inquiry, had to accept the Environment Agency had issued an Environmental Permit. We now know with regard to recent flooding, that the Environment Agency can get thing wrong.”
The Breathe Clean Air Group claims that the incinerator will not be using Best Available Techniques to protect the public. The temperature in the furnace will not be high enough to destroy the toxins, the outdated bag-filtration system will not be able to filter out those toxins and the short chimney stack will not be able to disperse those toxins adequately.
“Another issue not considered at the Hearing was the visual impact of the plant. Most people have seen the artist’s impression in the newspapers, but that will be only half the height in reality. The plant will dominate the Davyhulme skyline and be a blot on the landscape. If this Appeal fails, local democracy is dead,” added Mr Kilvert.