Incinerator campaigners warn Calderdale Council it may apply for judicial review

Campaigners against a waste incinerator in Calderdale are warning the council it may apply for a judicial review over the granting of an environmental permit for one to operate.

Sunday, 14th March 2021, 12:10 pm
Calder Valley Skip Hire in Sowerby Bridge

Legal representatives for the Benbow Group, who have campaigned against Calder Valley Skip Hire’s plans to operate a small waste incineration Plant) at its Belmont site in Sowerby Bridge, have written to Calderdale Council warning it may apply for a judicial review.

The group has a crowdfunding appeal – www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/say-no-to-incineration-ryburn-valley – to help fund legal costs and claims “massive support” including both Calderdale’s MPs, ward councillors and among the public.

A spokesperson for the group said: “We are confident we have a strong case. We really hope since the Cabinet told the meeting their hands were tied, that now it is shown they received the wrong advice and applied the wrong tests that they agree to quash the permit.”

Its next step will depend on the council’s response to the protocol letter, with a response asked for within 14 days of the correspondence being sent on March 5.

Last month the council’s Cabinet approved the company’s application for an environmental permit for the site, and this followed Calder Valley Skip Hire’s successful challenge to the authority’s refusal of planning permission, with a Planning Inspector allowing that application on appeal, the decision announced in January 2020.

The protocol letter, sent by the claimant’s legal representative, Richard Harwood QC of London-based 39 Essex Chambers, sets out grounds for the decision being challenged and what orders the group will seek the court to make, namely an order quashing Cabinet’s decision to grant the permit, an order quashing the environmental permit itself and that the council pays the claimant’s costs.

The grounds for challenge include a question of law, and assertions over assessment of harm and safety tests.

Other grounds relate to issues the group claims apply over the permit and a waste management licence at the site, and a claim that the council acted unfairly in providing third party correspondence to the applicant but denied access by third parties to letters from Calder Valley Skip Hire’s legal team gunnercooke until after the Cabinet meeting, meaning it could not respond to them.

In respect of the correspondence, the protocol letter alleges one of the gunnercooke letters threatened to sue the Cabinet for malfeasance in public office if the permit was refused and the a second letter re-inforcing the applicant’s argument that there were no lawful, valid arguments upon which the environmental permit could be refused.

The letter also references Cabinet member Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot) raising his hand in the vote with the message “hand tied” written on his open palm.

The council has said it did not wish to respond to the protocol letter.