The applications will go before the Development and Regulation Committee at Essex County Council
The committee will meet on one of the following dates: 23 March or 27 April. This meeting will review the applications and make a decision on the future of the incinerator.
How you can help
Write to the councillors who sit on the committee that will make the decision - make them listen to your views
Dear D&R Cllrs,
References: ESS/36/17/BTE and ESS/37/17/BTE
I am writing regarding concerns I have for the proposed Rivenhall IWMF. As a member of the committee that will decide on the current planning applications to increase the stack height, I would like you to consider the huge number of issues around this facility and take this into account when the application is presented at committee.
The Planning Inspector, appointed by the Secretary of State, originally approved a recycling and incineration plant on this site in 2009 (endorsed by the Secretary of State in 2010). His ‘balanced decision’ concluded that the recycling elements and the linked combination of a unit producing electricity, heat and steam and a paper pulping facility was sustainable in planning terms. That balance has now been seriously undermined by the ‘S73 “variation” (planning ref ESS-34-15-BTE application in early 2016), which greatly reduced the level of sustainable waste management and increased the incineration element from 360 ktpa to 595 ktpa – an increase of 65%.
Due to the changes highlighted above, the changes in the waste landscape coupled with more recent and up to date knowledge, supporting additional expert reports, this application is either not valid, must be refused or needs further inspection by an independent body since ‘this is a complex matter well beyond the understanding of the general public’.
The EA permit has been granted but not for the incinerator as permitted in 2010. The 2010 design was refused a permit. In addition, the EA states that a recommended stack height does not assuming planning. Consequently, no weight should be attributed to the granting of the EA permit.
There has been no public engagement at all on the current planning applications. In the ECC scoping report, there were calls for the applicant to engage with the community, but there has been no effort at all to do this. There have been numerous opportunities open to the applicant, such as attending local parish council meetings or even the open public meeting held in September that saw two planning officers speak. Despite this, the applicant has remained silent. I feel this shows a lack of respect and care for the community, which will be so severely impacted by the facility.
Within the latest applications, there have been mistakes and omissions in the documentation submitted by the applicant. The list of those who should be consulted has missed off important stakeholders. There are variations between what the applicant has put forward to the Environment Agency and what is now part of the recent planning applications. There are not separate Landscape and Visual Impact and Heritage Assessments. The work undertaken on the LVIA is flawed. These are among the serious issues that as a resident, I demand answers to.
The facility has already been through this process before and after an appeal, had conditions applied by an independent planning inspector and a Secretary of State. This was for a facility that is barely recognisable as being the same facility these applications refer to, given the extensive changes that have crept in over the years, including the greater focus on incineration. I fail to understand how the Council is now able to review these applications and potentially overturn the previous decisions that were made. Furthermore, the Council appears to be conflicted on this facility as it would be the major client of it if it were to go ahead, and given that it has already been written into the Council’s waste plan, that suggests the decision is predetermined. I urge you to refer this decision on to an independent body or reject the applications on the basis that conditions have already been set that do not allow the chimney height to be increased.
There is a further issue around actual demand for this facility. There is not necessarily the waste available to supply the incinerator and its development may actually reduce recycling. This would reverse the hard work that has been carried out to increase our recycling rates, which should be commended. A report published in August 2017 (Eunomia, Residual Waste Infrastructure Review: 12th Issue) made the following statement:
“With more facilities still in the construction pipeline, the report forecasts that the UK’s supply of treatment capacity will exceed the available quantity of residual waste in 2020/21. Were all facilities to operate at full capacity, together they would limit the UK’s recycling rate to no more than 63%.”
Minimal consideration has been given the impact on climate change with the incinerator producing approx. 500,000 tpa of CO2 plus the significant emission associated with transporting this amount of incinerator fuel to the facility. There is now a duty for councils to consider sustainable and climate-friendly developments, and the changes in capacity now moves the incinerator DOWN the waste hierarchy into ‘disposal to atmosphere’.
Finally, I am worried about what this facility means for my health, and the health of friends and family in the area. The Royal College of Physicians published a report in 2016 (Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution), in which it states that small particles (such as those that will be released by the IWMF) can cause Dementia, Parkinson, cancers and have a damaging effect on people with respiratory diseases. It also adds that some of these effects are “well recognised”, but air pollution may be associated with a wider range of health conditions such as diabetes and neurological disease, and could also lead to low birth weights and pre-term birth. It argues that “more research is needed to characterise the impacts, but there is no doubt that the health effects of air pollution are significant.”
ECC has responsibility for protecting our public health. In ECC’s own health and wellbeing strategy, it says that measures need to be implemented to improve environmental factors, such as reduction in waste and air pollution. Braintree has been recognised by a Friends of the Earth study to have some of the highest levels of pollution in the country from particulates and from NOX: (https://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/unmasked-story-air-youre-breathing-103872.pdf). Given the clear links between air pollution and serious health conditions, how can this facility possibly proceed?
The Government appears to recognise the impact of these particles, by banning the sale of diesel vehicles from 2040. This is because these diesel vehicles produce the same particles as what the facility will be emitting. I would like ECC to follow the Government’s example, unless it has evidence the Government does not showing that these particles are in fact safe or because there is another reason why it is acceptable to ignore the principles behind this national policy.
The NPPF establishes that “health” impacts are a material consideration in planning decisions. Paragraph 120 states:
“To prevent unacceptable risks from pollution and land instability, planning policies and decisions should ensure that new development is appropriate for its location. The effects (including cumulative effects) of pollution on health, the natural environment or general amenity, and the effects from pollution, should be taken into account. Where a site is affected by contamination or land stability issues, responsibility for securing a safe development rests with the developer and/or landowner”.
On this basis, the Environmental Statement does not include any assessment of the impact of the development on health. We would submit that the Council request the developer to produce a Health Impact Statement relating to the proposed increase in height the stack and the variation of conditions. It will not be acceptable for the applicant to refer to the EA Permit clearance as this is a planning matter for the County Council and must form part of the planning applications.
You may be aware of the thousands of objections that residents have submitted to the Environment Agency and the Council on this facility. This development has been going for a number of years and clearly we will not give up fighting it. The Council has a duty to consider what is best for us and to listen to our voices. I ask you to fulfil your duty.