Steve Barclay and waste incinerator plans: Halifax's MP calls for waste incinerator permit process 'pause' to apply to all applications as residents wait to see if Sowerby Bridge plant will go ahead

Halifax’s MP has called for a pause on determination of environmental permits for incinerators to be widened to include applications made to local authorities.
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Holly Lynch challenged leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, over the issue in Parliament this week.

Incinerators are often controversial, and opponents are currently mobilising against a waste company’s plans to run one in Sowerby Bridge.

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Calderdale Council will need to determine the second application from Calder Valley Skip Hire for a permit to run a small waste incineration plant at its Belmont works.

Holly Lynch, MP for HalifaxHolly Lynch, MP for Halifax
Holly Lynch, MP for Halifax

The government has temporarily banned permits for some new incinerator plants in England, including one the Environment Secretary Steve Barclay is fighting to stop being built in his North East Cambridgeshire constituency, national media reported this week.

The decision to instruct the Environment Agency to temporarily stop granting licences was made by junior Environment Minister Sir Mark Spencer, after Mr Barclay was recused from the process.

But Mr Spencer’s letter to the Environment Agency states this pause does not apply to a number of other environmental permits or variation applications to existing ones, including “small waste incineration plants”, said Labour MP Ms Lynch.

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Speaking in the House of Commons this week, Ms Lynch said ministers issued the direction to the Environment Agency, temporarily pausing the determination of environmental permits for new waste incineration facilities to allow DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) chance to examine the role of incineration in the management of residual waste.

“However, she will also be aware that the majority of permits are considered and granted by local authorities rather than the Environment Agency.

“Much to the annoyance of residents right across Calderdale, this pause doesn’t apply to those permits applied for at local authorities rather than the Environment Agency.

“Wouldn’t she agree that unless all permits are paused and all applications are considered as part of this work, it does very much look like it’s one rule for Government Ministers and one rule for everybody else?” she asked Ms Mordaunt.

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Ms Mordaunt said there would be different considerations in different cases and suggested Ms Lynch raised the issue at a DEFRA departmental questions session.

She said she would also make sure the department heard what Ms Lynch had said in the House.

“But I think that if she is going to make such accusations, she needs a bit more evidence than that she’s furnished us with today,” said Ms Mordaunt.

The company’s new application follows a planning inspector’s decision not to allow the company’s appeal against the council’s alleged failure to rule on a previous environmental permit application, effectively refusing permission for the permit.

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Inspector John Woolcock concluded he could not find that granting an environmental permit to operate the plant would not have an adverse effect on human health.

The company disputes his position but rather than challenging Mr Woolcock’s ruling by judicial review, believes its best course of action is in making the new permit application with an independent review, commissioned from Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants, to support their case.

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