Wiltshire Publications

Suspicion over incinerator decision delay

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ADECISION about the proposed controversial waste incinerator for Westbury will not be made until after the local elections in May.

The delay has sparked some suspicion that it could be a tactic by councillors to prevent a “backlash” from voters at the polling booths if the plans were given the go-ahead.

The decision by Wiltshire Council’s strategic planning committee was originally scheduled for November last year – but it has been delayed. And now Wiltshire Council has confirmed the application won’t be considered until June at the earliest.

Local campaign group, WGAG / No Westbury Incinerator, has highlighted that the local elections is an opportunity to show support to candidates that actively oppose the plans.

In a new development, Arla Foods, the owner of the Westbury dairy, is opposing the incinerator application. Arla is concerned about the potential for emissions and odours from the neighbouring site, which it says could force the dairy to shut down its operations, costing £11,000 an hour to avoid any risk of tainting its products. See full story on page 7.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not responded to Westbury Town Council’s letter asking for his “direct intervention” to stop the plans and demonstrate his support for “true green industries”.

“There has been no response from the PM’s office, as one has come to expect,” said mayor cllr Mike Sutton, speaking to White Horse News, “torn between supporting his large donors and not wanting to upset voters before the forthcoming elections in May.

“My understanding is that due to the high level of objections, including some from local prominent businesses on the Northacre estate, that no decision will be taken by Wiltshire until June at least.

“Am I being cynical in thinking this is to prevent a backlash in the May local elections should permission be granted?”

Local campaign group, WGAG / No Westbury Incinerator, has called on voters to support candidates that oppose the plans in May’s local elections.

Campaigner Dan Gmaj said, “This delay could mean new rules and new players, so reject any councillors across Wiltshire who dither on the subject of the proposed incinerator. It’s either ‘no incinerator’ or ‘no vote’ from me! 

“Find out who is running for your local and unitary positions and ask them ‘on the record’ if they are for or against this plant. We must make sure that the prevailing wind will never be favourable to allowing mass commercial incineration in Westbury, no matter what games Wiltshire Council play to try and achieve this goal.  

“And a strange goal it seems really, one that is entirely at odds with Wiltshire Council’s own waste hierarchy plan that states  ‘incinerate only as a last resort’! Without unified opposition, now including the commercial weight of neighbours Arla Foods and their world-renowned ‘Anchor Butter’ brand, this plan would have been rubber stamped long ago.

“Thank you for the community power generated in opposition, but please keep fighting on. 

“I can assure every single person who has opposed the proposed Hills Group/NRE incinerator in Westbury, that the reason that the meeting of the strategic planning committee has not yet been called to make decision is simply because Wiltshire Council, who have long running and close ties with the Hills Group, have been poleaxed by ‘informed opposition’ at every juncture along the way as they have tried to ‘hack’ a simple path to their favoured option to ‘recommend the proposal for approval’. 

“My take on the current delay is that it gives the council an opportunity to shake up the current committee and/or adapt rules around the operation of said committee.  

“They would then plan  to put the decision before a newly-selected panel post May 6th. I fear in the current political climate, that post elections, a new confidence will settle in county hall unless the community oppose all local and unitary councillors who have not demonstrated manifest opposition to this retrograde plant.”

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