Basildon incinerator plan rejected

A planning application for an incinerator in Basildon has been refused following concerns around its impact on the health of nearby residents as the noise would “drive people bonkers”.

The plans – which were recommended for approval by officers – came three months after being deferred so councillors could get more information before a decision was made.

The longer-term plans for the Archers Fields incinerator capable of burning up to 150,000 tonnes of waste a year remain unclear following a decision by the Government to temporarily halt issuing permits for new incinerator plants – such as would be required even with planning permission.

The energy from waste (EFW) facility on the Burnt Mills Industrial Estate in Archers Fields would burn non-hazardous residual waste to generate 11 megawatts of power – enough for 20,000 homes. Waste gases would be discharged through two chimneys 50 metres high.

The company behind it, Archers Field Energy Recovery Ltd says non-hazardous waste from businesses in the local area already comes into the industrial estate to be recycled at its existing Clearaway facility. However, not all of the material can be recycled so currently some has to be sent to landfill.

But Essex County Council’s planning committee heard the facility  – which would operate 24 hours a day – would have a severe impact on physical and mental health.

Committee member Councillor Jeff Henry said: “This area has a consistently long history of feeling got at, feeling unheard, and feeling unrepresented. The fact that adjacent wards have not been consulted  – by that I mean something through their doors asking we want to hear from you – because this concerns people.”

He added: “Some of the people with the highest levels of deprivation have not been asked yet. They are just as equally affected by this as people who live in very nice houses.

“I am very concerned that we have just literally ticked a box, we have asked people in the radius that is required of us and no more.”

Councillor Susan Barker said: “Material deliveries will occur 24 hours a day and the site will operate 24 hours a day. To me, that is a mental health thing. It will drive people bonkers”

The decision is expected to be appealed, the committee heard.

The decision in front of the council comes after a decision by the Government to temporarily ban permits for new incinerator plants in England. The environment department is now considering how many plants are needed as it decides whether there is over-provision in the sector.

The plans were refused on the grounds of industrialisation, location not suitable, mental and physical public health concerns, and impact on biodiversity.

The facility will also need a permit from the Environment Agency.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter