A judicial review permission hearing will be held at the high court on Tuesday, 13 October into the Environment's Agency's decision to vary a permit so that the development of one of Europe's biggest waste incinerators can go ahead.
Judges will hear arguments from lawyers representing campaign group No Essex Incinerator Limited (also known as Parishes Against Incinerator: PAIN) as to why the claim should proceed to a full hearing.
PAIN is campaigning against the development of the waste incinerator at Rivenhall in Essex on behalf of people living in the seven nearby villages and beyond. The villagers are crowdfunding their campaign.
The waste incinerator is part of a plan for an integrated waste management facility which was given planning permission in 2010. It was given planning permission for a 35-metre stack, but was refused an Environment Agency licence for a stack at that height. It was later refused planning permission for a 58-metre stack, for which it did have an EA licence.
Now the Environment Agency has revised its decision and varied the Gent Fairhead licence so that it can operate a stack at 35m.
PAIN’s lawyers, Leigh Day solicitors, argue that it is common ground that the usual stack height for this sort of installation would be 70-120m. They say the only reason why the developer sought an environmental permit for this much lower stack height is because it has been refused planning permission for a higher stack. As far as the Claimant is aware, there is no other similar facility in the UK with a stack height this low.
The lower stack height means that the emissions that are released will be felt to a greater extent by the surrounding environment.
PAIN’s grounds of claim are:
- Permitting the 35m stack height amounted to a breach of the Industrial Emissions Directive;
- Even if a 35m stack was capable of being a Best Available Technique (“BAT”), the EA failed to take into account the need to reduce to a minimum the overall impact of the emissions on the environment; and,
- The Decision was made in a manner contrary to guidance produced by the EA without good reason.
Nick Unsworth, PAIN campaigner, said:
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to explain the importance of our position. It has long term consequences for all incinerators insomuch as it seems to favour developers rather than the environment, is contrary to all intentions to reduce emissions, improve air quality and seems to ignore the climate emergency we are all facing.”
“Our clients have been campaigning against the incinerator for many years and have grave concerns about the effects it will have on the local communities. We hope the Court will see the force of our arguments, and allow the claim to proceed to a full hearing, so that the problems of the permit can be put under the spotlight.
"The hearing is expected to take half a day and decision is expected within weeks."