Hertfordshire County Council planned to build a 380,000 tonnes per year waste incinerator on the New Barnfield site in South Hatfield, close to Welham Green.
Veolia’s Planning Application to build the incinerator has now been rejected by the Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government twice, in July 2014, and in July 2015.
Congratulations to the many, many people who contributed to this successful outcome.
This incinerator was massively opposed, because of the effect it would have on people and on the environment. The impact would have been particularly strong in Hatfield, Welham Green and Colney Heath, but there would also have been negative impact, especially visual impact, over a very wide area. The incinerator would have burned domestic waste from Hertfordshire, plus commercial and industrial waste from anywhere in order to use the enormous capacity, and also clinical waste.
In July 2011 Herts CC made a contract with Veolia Environmental Services to build this incinerator, subject to planning permission. A Planning Application was made by Veolia in December 2011, and 6300 responses against it were sent to Herts County Council by the closing date of January 31st 2012. However, Veolia’s Planning Application was approved by a majority of the Development and Control Committee of HCC on Oct 24th 2012.
This decision then went to the Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government. The Secretary of State called-in Veolia’s Planning Application on Jan 28th 2013, and there was a Public Inquiry, led by independent inspector David Richards, from September 10th to Oct 25th 2013. A decision by the Secretary of State, at that time Eric Pickles, against the planning application, was made on July 8th 2014.
Veolia made a legal challenge in the High Court in 2014, and this succeeded, on the grounds that the Sec of State had not made clear enough that he had taken into account the fact that the New Barnfield site was listed as an allocated waste site by Herts County Council and that Herts County Council wanted it to be removed from the Green Belt.
In July 2015 the new Secretary of State at the DCLG, Greg Clark, again ruled against the planning application. He agreed with Eric Pickles and with Inspector Richards that the harm caused by the proposal outweighed any benefits. They all particularly emphasised the visual harm: to the Green Belt, to the landscape and residential amenity, to Southfield School, and to the ensemble of heritage assets at Hatfield House and Park. On the point from Veolia’s legal challenge, the Sec of State said that there was no certainty that the site would be removed from the Green Belt, because Herts County Council and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council have different views on this.
During the time that Herts CC were in the process of procuring an incinerator, they did not have approval from the Planning Inspectorate for their overall Waste Strategy. The first section, the Waste Core Strategy, had final HCC approval on Nov 5th 2012.
The second section, the Waste Sites Allocations Document, went out to public consultation in Spring 2012, and 2000 objections were made to the inclusion of New Barnfield as a waste site, a site with potential for waste management including “thermal treatment” (i.e. incineration). HCC altered the document to some extent, but did not remove New Barnfield from the list of possible waste sites. HCC conducted another Public Consultation on Waste Site Allocations in Nov/Dec 2012, and 2317 objections were made to the use of New Barnfield as a waste site.
This Waste Sites Allocations document was examined at a Hearing in Public, in front of independent inspector Andrew Freeman, from September 3rd to Sept 5th 2013, and Nov 5th to Nov 6th, with Nov 5th specifically about the New Barnfield site. There was a Public Consultation on some proposed changes to the Waste Sites Allocations document, from Jan 6th to Feb 17th 2014. The proposed changes did not include the deletion of New Barnfield from the list of allocated waste sites in Hertfordshire. 2994 objections to the inclusion of New Barnfield as a waste site were made. However, in April 2014, Inspector Freeman approved the Waste Sites Allocations Plan, and it finally was adopted by HCC on July 15th 2014.
Inspector Freeman’s report says that any waste management development on the New Barnfield site should have no greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than the existing buildings, and that the design including its scale has to be respectful to the context of the site. Inspector Freeman also says that there is a conflict between development of thermal facilities and these limitations, as thermal facilities are normally larger than the buildings presently on the site. He also says that in any development at New Barnfield, the impact on heritage assets, including Hatfield House, must be assessed.
The New Barnfield incinerator plan was opposed by thousands of residents, both local and from wider in the county. It was also opposed by: Welwyn Hatfield M.P. Grant Shapps, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Hatfield Town Council, local Parish Councils, North Mymms Green Belt Society, and many other local organisations. It was also opposed by important national Statutory Consultees, including English Heritage (now Historic England). It was also opposed by some Hertfordshire County Councillors (Labour, Lib-Dem, and some Conservative county councillors). It was opposed by environmental groups throughout the county, including Herts WithOut Waste and Friends of the Earth. UK Without Incineration Network supported Hatfield against Incineration with advice and information at the many stages of the campaign.
“Hatfield Against Incineration” is a non-party-political group founded by residents of Hatfield and Welham Green. We were founded in 2009. We have campaigned since that time, working to stop the proposed New Barnfield incinerator at every step of the long and complex process, and working to promote alternatives to incineration as a method of waste management.
In 2011 the New Barnfield Action Fund was set up to create a fighting fund to pay for legal expenses of the campaign against an incinerator at New Barnfield. Hatfield against Incineration is a member of this organisation. Grant Shapps is the Chair, and the Secretary is Paul Zukowskyj. On its committee are representatives of the three main political parties on Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council; representatives of Hatfield Town Council, North Mymms Green Belt Society, and North Mymms Parish Council; and the editor of the Welwyn Hatfield Times.
Note: The Sec of State’s July 17th 2015 decision to reject Veolia’s Planning application can be challenged by Veolia. They have 6 weeks from the decision to lodge a challenge in the High Court. They have to have legal grounds to do so.
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