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WC PR department works overtime to whitewash Tory incinerator decision

June 22, 2021 2:53 PM

Here's a WC press release. It's unedited, but note the following points:

The decision was made by the seven Conservative members of the Strategic Planning Committee. The four non-Con members voted against. So it's accurate but deliberately misleading to focus on the 'cross-party' nature of the committee.

Note the cowardly attempt to pass the blame onto "planning and legal officers," on to a hypothetical planning inspector who would have forced the council to have "almost certainly been subject to a very costly appeal in the future and the decision likely overturned," onto the Environment Agency who are the reason why "the council cannot give undue weight to the operational impact of the facility", and onto the Secretary of State who might absolve the councillors from their decision.

Note also that only the "most affected parish councils" were allowed to speak - others were not allowed to put forward their objections on behalf of their residents.

Note the absence of any indication of how the "thousands of residents" who made written representations were split. In fact of those comments received when the agenda report was written 1972 were against and 6 were in favour. Late submissions skewed the balance even more.

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Strategic Planning Committee approves Westbury incinerator planning application

Wiltshire Council's Strategic Planning Committee has today (Tuesday 22 June) voted to approve the planning application from Land & Mineral Management, on behalf of Northacre Renewable Energy Limited (NREL), for a revised 'energy from waste' facility in Westbury, 7 votes for and 4 votes against.

The application was approved based on the recommendation of planning and legal officers, who advised that the scheme be granted planning permission, subject to conditions.

Cllr Nick Botterill, Cabinet Member for Planning, said: "The planning application for a revised 'energy from waste' facility in Westbury was approved today by the Strategic Planning Committee.

"The application was approved by the Strategic Planning Committee after full and very careful consideration. Planning and legal officers had already made a recommendation of approval as there were no material planning or legal reasons why the application could not be approved on planning grounds. If the committee had rejected the application despite the advice from officers, the council would almost certainly been subject to a very costly appeal in the future and the decision likely overturned.

"It is also important to note that the council cannot give undue weight to the operational impact of the facility as part of the planning process. Any operational impact will be considered by the Environment Agency under its own Environmental Permitting system."

Cllr Howard Greenman, Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, said: "The Strategic Planning Committee comprises cross-party members from around the county and is an important part of the statutory planning process.

"The committee heard from pre-arranged speakers from both sides of the discussion, including representatives from the most affected parish councils, who were given the opportunity to have their say and present their arguments in accordance with procedure.

"The application will now be referred to the Secretary of State, who will decide whether he wants to call in the application for his determination."

The application received thousands of written representations from people and organisations, and the meeting was streamed live on YouTube and Facebook to allow as many people as possible to watch, as attendance numbers were limited due to social distancing. People can watch a replay of the meeting at www.youtube.com/wiltshirecouncil.