Wiltshire Publications

Protestors celebrate gasification plant vote, but waste plant gets go-ahead

CAMPAIGNERS have celebrated as updated plans for the Hills gasification plant have been refused by Wiltshire Council; the Secretary of State, on behalf of the government, will now make the final decision on the application.

However, a second application for a waste management facility was approved by Wiltshire Council.
Six councillors voted against and four voted for the changes to the Hills Waste Solutions Ltd planning application for an advanced thermal treatment facility at Northacre in Westbury, at a strategic planning meeting at Wiltshire Council on Wednesday 18th July, going against the planning officer’s recommendation to grant planning permission.
The grounds for refusal were due to the 30%+ increase in size from their original application in 2015. Wiltshire Council says that as a result, the site is not big enough to accommodate the scale and mass of the new plans.
Before the debate and vote was taken, it was announced that the application has already been ‘called in’ by the Secretary of State, who will make the final decision, taking into account Wiltshire Council’s decision.
Following the refusal by Wiltshire Council, campaigner Margaret Cavanna said, “It was a roller coaster meeting with many twists and turns, but in the end a fantastic result for Westbury, that maybe few expected. Committee members were not expected to go against a recommendation to approve the plans and this was a courageous choice made by six Wiltshire councillors, including David Jenkins representing Westbury North.
“Speakers during the public forum were great in covering the range of issues we have with the ATT: Maggy Daniel, Jim Marley, Harriet James, Stephen Eades, David Levy, David Davies, Councillors Mike Sutton, Gordon King, and Russell Hawker, and Kathy Hutt (chair of Dilton Marsh Parish Council). Our views were well represented.
“Also crucial were the months of campaigning leading up to the meeting. Huge appreciation is due to all members of the Westbury Gasification Action Group. Now numbering 870 people on Facebook, plus many others, people have contributed in so many ways, including leafletting, speaking at council meetings, making placards, petitioning, sending objections, and sharing and supporting on social media.”
Wiltshire councillors were also casting their vote during the meeting on Wednesday 18th July on a second Hills Waste application, for a waste management facility.
Margaret Cavanna continued, “Sadly the Hills application to set up a waste management facility in front of the existing MBT plant was approved at the same meeting. This will mean thousands more tonnes of waste being brought to Northacre for sorting, storage and onward transport. Thousands more vehicles would come through Westbury, although the company argues trips from Wiltshire to Europe would be reduced. As the application was subject to ‘call in’ by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, the decision is now being scrutinised by him.
“Whilst Northacre Renewable Energy could appeal against the advanced thermal treatment plant refusal, it would be better if they understood that the people of Westbury have now drawn a red line and there is no social licence for more inappropriate development in the area. This is Westbury not Waste-bury, and opposition will continue.”
Maggy Daniell, campaigner said, “It was a great result. It was especially good to see that councillors had listened to residents and had acted on their own concerns about this.
“No-one would want to have an ATT/incinerator in their town; and it amazes me that this site was ever put forward. Whatever the merits of incineration (and there aren’t many), it is more suited to the M5 than to an urban waste site. And there are enough already being built on away-from-town sites like that to cope with existing demand.
“Not enough thought has been given to the drawbacks of using a ‘dustbin in the sky’ instead of landfill. One is that recycling rates have dropped in districts where this is seen as the solution, which is the opposite result of what was intended.
“Too often recyclable high energy plastics are deemed ‘contaminated’ and diverted to feed the hungry monster. So although some produce a bit of energy, they also produce more CO2 from fossil fuel products that could have had a second use. As taxpayers are subsidising these private companies, we ought to have more say.”
Cllr Mike Sutton, chair of Westbury Town Council’s highways planning and development committee said, “Westbury Town Council, which objected to this application on a number of grounds, is pleased that the Wiltshire Council strategic planning committee did not approve the application for the advanced thermal treatment (ATT) facility and that the views of Westbury Town Council and its residents contributed to this decision. The application for a waste management facility however was approved.
“The ATT application has generated much debate and concern within Westbury and the surrounding area, although it should be pointed out that this decision could be overturned at appeal by an appeal made by the applicant.
“We are concerned that no-one appears to have taken responsibility at this stage for the public health of residents. Wiltshire Council, who do have some public health accountability, state that such matters should be left to the Environment Agency as part of any environmental permit but we note that the agency is only concerned with compliance to existing regulations and not public health. We are worried that such regulations typically lag behind emerging health issues.
“Westbury Town Council would like to see further discussions in this area.”
A spokesperson for Northacre Renewable Energy said, “We are extremely disappointed by the outcome. The facility has existing planning permission and we will discuss this outcome with our stakeholders and decide on a way forward after that.”

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