Today in the High Court, Manchester, a Judge agreed with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who granted planning permission for the Barton Renewable Energy Plant, also known as the Davyhulme Incinerator. The case was a legal challenge made by Trafford Council against Mr Pickles’ decision of last May to uphold the planning inspector’s recommendation from a Public Inquiry held in November 2012.
Below is a statement by the Breathe Clean Air Group:
Today is a backward step for democracy and localism. The local communities and the local Council could not have shouted any louder that this was the wrong technology in the wrong location. The decision should have been a firm ‘NO’.
Today’s decision is also a leap in an entirely different direction to those of us who want a clean, green environment that safeguards the health of our communities. We are deeply disappointed that generating money has been prioritised over ensuring everyone’s air quality is safe and legal. We thank Trafford and its Councillors for standing alongside us to take this case to the High Court. We are encouraged that they have started to take the issue of air quality so seriously.
The reality of today’s decision means that an incinerator almost as tall as the Chill Factore will be built opposite the stadium of Salford Reds and Sale Sharks Rugby Clubs and only 500m from the nearest homes. It will be a smiling assassin. The site is partially located in an Air Quality Management Area, where plans should be in place to reduce air pollution for public safety, not add to it. A low chimney will emit pollution containing Arsenic, Dioxins, Nitrogen Dioxide, nanoparticles and many many more dangerous pollutants into the air around the stadium, local houses, schools, parks, allotments, the Trafford Centre and various sports facilities at Trafford Quays. The short height of this chimney will mean the pollutants will remain more concentrated in the local area.
This situation could have been entirely avoided. Alternative technologies exist for creating energy, as Peel well know (they are already developing and using alternatives at other sites across the UK). There is absolutely no need for this dirty incinerator here amongst our community. We do not understand how this proposal has been allowed to get so far.
We have been let down by both the Environment Agency and the Planning system, which both seem stacked in the favour of the developer. The Environment Agency has never refused an incinerator permit, even when the local air pollution is at illegally high levels. They admitted to us in a response to a Freedom of information request that they do not undertake unannounced emissions testing, which means we have everything to fear from a polluting incinerator that essentially will monitor itself.
The Breathe Clean Air Group will not rest here though. The air quality in Trafford is already over the legal limits. We have made an official complaint to the European Commission that several readings are 50% over the legal limits for Nitrogen Dioxide. The European Commission responded to us this week and also publicly announced that it has launched legal proceedings against the UK for unsafe, illegal Nitrogen Dioxide levels in 16 areas, including here in Greater Manchester. The UK faces fines of up to £300m a year, which demonstrates just how serious this issue is.
Today’s decision just digs us further into this deep, dirty hole and the Breathe Clean Air Group will continue the fight to climb out of it.