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Wiltshire Council does ponderous U-turn on Westbury incinerator

July 27, 2022 5:28 PM

It was a long and tortuous debate. Planning officers and lawyers repeatedly told the committee they could make any decision they liked as long as it was the one the planning officers and lawyers wanted. Then after some sixteen months of see-sawing the committee finally summoned up the courage to disagree with their experts and agree with everyone else in the Westbury world. Here's the slightly petulant official WC release:

Wiltshire Council's Strategic Planning Committee has today (Wednesday 27 July) voted against approving a planning application from Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd for an energy from waste facility in Westbury. The final decision about whether to grant planning permission will now pass to an independent planning inspector acting on behalf of the Secretary of State.

The committee was minded to refuse the application based on the grounds that it does not represent sustainable development. The committee delegated the final wording of the motion to officers, and this will be resolved in the coming days - but it does not change the committee's decision. When this is agreed, the planning inspector will be informed.

The committee had previously resolved to approve the application on 22 June 2021, and then revisited the decision on 20 April 2022 to consider changes since the original resolution was made. The committee also considered additional representations from third parties.

In April 2022, the committee decided to defer its decision to fully consider the new information presented at the meeting, and also to consider the outcome of the government's consultations on the review of National Energy Policy Statements EN-1 and EN-3. People can read more about these consultations at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-new-energy-infrastructure-review-of-energy-national-policy-statements

Cllr Nick Botterill, Cabinet Member for Planning, said: "The planning application for a revised energy from waste facility in Westbury has been carefully considered today by the Strategic Planning Committee, after reviewing all the new evidence that has come to light since the first application was considered in June last year.

"The committee has decided to advise the Secretary of State that it would have refused planning permission on the grounds that it does not represent sustainable development."

On 31 March, the council received notification that the Secretary of State did not wish to call-in the earlier version of the application. On 28 June 2022, Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd submitted an appeal against the council's failure to determine the application to the Secretary of State. The appeal argues that circumstances had not changed from when the application was considered in June 2021 and that they had no choice but to appeal, as the council had taken too long to make a final decision. The appeal is expected to be considered later in 2022.