29/02/2012 - Permalink

Energy from Waste appeal costs published by Shropshire Council

Related topics: Community

The cost of the appeal by Veolia over the decision by the council’s planning committee to refuse permission for an energy from waste plant to be built at Battlefield, near Shrewsbury, has been published today.

Shropshire Council has provided the figures as part of a commitment to regularly publish details of expenditure on the Open Data section of its website, as soon as it is in a position to do this.

The appeal was granted by an independent planning inspector in January 2012, which means the energy from waste plant at Battlefield will be built, despite Shropshire Council’s planning committee voting to refuse the scheme in September 2010.

The application was submitted by Veolia Environmental Services – the company that provides the council’s waste and recycling service – and provoked a heated debate between environmental protesters and councillors.

Shropshire Council has a long term waste collection and disposal contract with Veolia, which provides a good quality value-for-money service for local people.  A major part of the contract agreed between the council and Veolia involved the construction of an energy from waste plant, which was seen as an effective way of reducing the amount of waste from Shropshire going to landfill. 

An energy from waste facility deals with household waste that cannot be reused, recycled or composted, and which would otherwise end up in landfill.  The facility will also generate electricity, and supply power equivalent to the energy consumption of more than 10,000 homes, from the 90,000 tonnes of residual waste generated each year in Shropshire.

In common with similar contracts elsewhere in the UK, it was agreed that the council would pay 90% of any costs if the planning application went to appeal, because any delay would mean Veolia were liable to greater landfill costs.  Without the energy from waste facility, the cost of the contract for the council would have been much higher.

The total estimated cost of the appeal has now been calculated at £908,769. This includes £64,874 of costs incurred by the council as the Local Planning Authority in defending the planning committee’s decision to refuse planning permission, and £843,879 incurred by Veolia.  The council, as waste authority, is required to indemnify Veolia for 90% of its costs, meaning £759,505 will be paid from the council’s waste budget over the remaining length of the contract at the rate of about £40,000 a year.

Chief executive of Shropshire Council, Kim Ryley, said:

“It was always known that the majority of appeal costs would be met by the council as part of the original contract.  The planning committee would have known that refusing the planning application had the potential to cost the council money.  But that’s the cost of democracy – councillors listened to the views of those protesting about the proposals, and did what they felt was right at the time.  Protesters should not think that the outcome of their challenges will have no costs which fall on the wider public to pay.

“Now the application has not only gone through the council’s own rigorous planning system, it has also been carefully examined by an independent expert, who has decided there are no valid grounds on which to refuse the construction of the energy from waste plant.  In financial terms, the appeal cost is small compared to the total cost of the county’s waste and recycling service over the length of this contract.”

Further information

On 1 September 2010, Shropshire Council’s strategic planning committee unanimously rejected an application from Veolia Environmental Services for an energy from waste facility at Battlefield in Shrewsbury.

The application had been recommended for approval by planning officers, and was supported by Shropshire Council as the waste authority.

Veolia appealed to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate against this decision.

Shropshire Council, as waste authority, had approved Veolia Environmental Services pursuing the planning appeal for the energy from waste facility at Battlefield.

The independent planning inspector heard Veolia’s appeal, starting on 27 September 2011 and finishing on 4 November 2011.