Last week, Wiltshire Council’s Strategic Planning Committee voted seven votes to four to approve planning permission for an energy-from-waste moving-grate incinerator in Westbury.
Local MP Andrew Murrison had already written to the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP and his Department’s Planning Casework Unit to ‘call in’ the proposal – a request which can be made up until the relevant planning authority makes its decision.
Two different contingencies will follow relating to the appeal against the approved decision.
In the first scenario, the Secretary of State will decide to call in the decision – this would be justified on the basis that the proposal is of national, rather than just local, significance. An inquiry would then take place directed by the Planning Inspectorate. The Inspector has to make a report and recommendation to the Secretary of State under the circumstances existing at the time he or she makes it.
The decision can be challenged in the High Court. Government guidance states that this could take place "if you think the Planning Inspectorate made a legal mistake."
In terms of a timeframe for this, the procedural guide (available on gov.uk) states: ‘Once we have received a called-in application we will send our initial letter confirming the inquiry procedure and notifying the applicant and the local planning authority of the reference number, the timetable for the called-in application and the specific address (room number and email address) to which any correspondence should be sent.’ The office of Andrew Murrison MP has not yet received a letter.
In terms of a second route, a judicial review can be initiated or the Environment Agency – who are in the process of deciding whether to grant a permit for operations at the plant – can be appealed to.
This route would be pursued if the Secretary of State decides not to call in the application - it should be noted that Secretaries of State only call a few applications in every year.
Andrew has been in contact with anti-incinerator stakeholders regarding future action.
“We still have the opportunity to stop this carbon-belching monster. Any final decision is still some way off. I will be writing to the Secretary of State clearly outlining my – and my constituents’ – main concerns with this proposal.
“I will also be seeking a meeting with him, where, hopefully, local stakeholders will also be able to engage and put forward their points of view.”