Latest twist in controversial Calderdale incinerator plans

Locals concerned about how close proposed incinerators are to local schools
Locals concerned about how close proposed incinerators are to local schools

The latest twist over controversial proposals for an incinerator at two Sowerby Bridge sites has emerged after Calderdale Council issued a new statement.

The council issued a planning and permitting update for sites at Mearclough and Belmont, Sowerby Bridge, where Calder Valley Skip Hire wants to open a small waste incinerator plant, to councillors and it has been posted on social media by Councillor Andrew Tagg (Con, Skircoat) and Councillor Rob Holden (Independent, Ryburn) following questioning.

Other councillors who have commented on Coun Tagg’s Facebook post include Coun Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) and Coun Mike Payne (Independent Conservative, Sowerby Bridge).

In terms of an environmental permit for Mearclough, the council has taken legal advice as the existing Environment Agency permit prohibits burning on the site.

Calderdale Council’s Assistant Director for Neighbourhoods, Andrew Pitts, said: “The application for a permit at the Mearclough site has been assessed by Environmental Health Officers but, before a decision can be made, there is a need to address the fact that the existing Environment Agency permit allowing the site to be used for waste management purposes specifically prohibits burning on site.

“After taking legal advice, we have been in contact with both the Environment Agency and the applicant to seek their views on this apparent conflict.

“The responses are currently being assessed by Legal officers.

“Only after these matters have been fully considered will the council be in a position to make a decision on the application for an Environmental Permit to operate a Small Waste Incinerator Plant at Mearclough Road, Sowerby Bridge.”

In terms of planning, Calder Valley Skip Hire has been advised that the operation of a small waste incinerator plant at Mearclough would be a material change of use at the site and to do that a planning application would be required.

To date, no such planning application has been submitted, says the council.

In the case of the Belmont Works site, to date no application has been submitted for an environmental permit.

Regarding planning issues, the company has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against last December’s refusal of planning permission for a small waste incinerator plant – and a related application to vary the associated planning conditions.

The council says any such appeal must be made within six months of the decision and accordingly must be made by the beginning of July 2018.

Calderdale says that no appeal has been received yet.

At the times of site inspections at Belmont by planning and environmental health officers to monitor compliance on site there were no material breaches of the noise condition attached to the site’s current planning permission, works to repair a fire damaged building are ongoing with a small extension falling within permitted development rights and the site was tidy with stockpiles below three metres high, says the council.

Councillors representing Sowerby Bridge and Ryburn wards and MPs Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley) and Holly Lynch (Halifax) are among those who have spoken out against the plans, with residents opposing the proposal including the campaigning Benbow Group, which has a crowdfunding page to raise money the help pay for any legal costs.

They fear the impact on air quality and the environment in the Ryburn Valley.

For its part Calder Valley Skip Hire has said the family owned business proposed would be small scale, incinerating waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill. Before the December planning meeting, the company said emissions would have a negligible impact at local level in terms of air quality and health while the site had been designed to have no visual impact and would not create any noise disturbance.

Heat from the process would be used to generate electricity, assisting the company to reach sustainability and recovery targets of zero waste going to landfill, it said.