Covanta have told a meeting of the Community Liaison Panel that they are unlikely now to submit their application to the Infrastructure Planning Committee before mid July 2010.
At this stage we can only speculate as to the reasons why Covanta have decided to put back their application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) till mid July this year. However at the Community Liaison Panel reference was made to (1) the local NHS Primary Care Trust seeking further detail about the health impacts from noise, traffic and the anxiety of living near an incinerator, (2) unfinished discussions about the emergency site access sought by the Fire Brigade – on Station Lane between Pillinge South Farm and Millbrook, (3) the fact the IPC did not provide a complete list of those it would expect Covanta to consult with – since amended and (4) the large number of responses from the public, campaign groups and public bodies to which
they are replying. The IPC expects a lot of these discussions with statutory bodies to take place before any application is sent in.Another important factor is that the policy planning statements on energy infrastructure and renewable energy remain in draft form. These documents are key to how the IPC should assess the Covanta application. The Department for Energy & Climate Change were due, following consideration of responses from interested parties (of which MMAG is one) to table for parliamentary approval a revised set of statements in mid summer. Where these now sit – and indeed the future
of the IPC may depend on the outcome of the General Election. Strictly speaking in the absence of the IPC or any statements – Covanta could continue with their application under the Electricity Act – effectively the old planning process – in which case the Secretary of State would make a decision.
It’s worth reminding ourselves that Covanta are seeking permission for an energy from waste plant and the IPC will also be assessing what contribution in terms of ‘green’ electricity the Covanta plant makes and whether net carbon savings are achieved by avoiding landfill as well as the environmental impact of an incinerator which we believe is vile.
This does have an effect on the timetable. If submitted in mid July the IPC (if still in existence), would have one month to decide whether to begin consideration of the application. Thereafter a 6 month period of consultation and examination would take place – August – January 2011 after which the IPC has 3 months to make its mind up – January – March. Within weeks of the decision there is the opportunity to seek judicial review.
During this period there could be other applications by competitors of Covanta to process waste for energy nearby or elsewhere.
During the CLP I raised the issue of whether Covanta would compensate residents for effects on property prices – aware of reports that house sales have fallen through when prospective purchasers get wind of an incinerator in the offing. Covanta said they would not. Nevertheless its important that we are aware of any adverse impact Covanta is having on property values and sales – so confidentiality absolutely assured – please keep us posted.
We are hosting an MMAG Open Day on Saturday, May 22nd 10am to 2pm where representatives of MMAG will be available in the Methodist Hall (by the Doctors). Please come and say hello and discuss local issues relating to incineration, landfill, housing and wind turbines!
Hugh Roberts – Chair MMAG