Posted: Thu 1st Feb 2024

Campaigners Slam Vale of Glamorgan Council Over Costly Incinerator Planning Row

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Feb 1st, 2024

Campaigners have slammed Vale of Glamorgan Council over a planning row involving a Barry incinerator which will cost the local authority “significantly”.
Docks Incinerator Action Group’s (DIAG) criticism comes weeks after Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) ordered Vale Council to pay costs to the firm behind Barry Biomass Plant after quashing an enforcement notice.
The notice, which was served on the plant by the council after a number discrepancies were found with the original approved plans for the site, was found to be inaccurate according to PEDW.
Vale of Glamorgan Council said that it was disappointed by PEDW’s decision in respect of the enforcement notice served against the biomass plant.
DIAG has demanded an explanation from the council as to how it will investigate and deal with the failings laid out by PEDW in a scathing letter which stated that a proper investigation of the planning breach was lacking and “compounded by repeated refusal to accept that the [enforcement notice] was defective”.
The chair of DIAG, Paul Robertson, wrote to Vale Council leader, Cllr Lis Burnett to say that PEDW’s report is “so damning” of the council’s actions “that the least worrying explanation is that its conduct of the case was incompetent”.
Mr Robertson said that the failures laid out by PEDW will “cost the council and local residents significantly” and called the planning body’s criticism “undermining of trust” in the local authority.
Plans for Barry Biomass Plant were approved in 2015, but it wasn’t until 2021 that an enforcement notice was served against Barry Biomass UK.
The alleged discrepancies with the original planning application included the layout and elevation of the development; additional structures, plant and equipment; and an extension of the site to the north.
Vale of Glamorgan Council said it had little choice but to serve the enforcement notice when it did as it wanted to ensure that the developers were not able to gain consent by default, which could have rendered conditions applied to the original application null and void.
Mr Robertson of DIAG added in his letter: “Please confirm what alternative steps will be taken by the council to avoid further issues that may very well lead to allegations of continuing incompetence and unreasonable behaviour.
“There is no point in assuming people will learn from their mistakes when your council continues to assert no mistakes have been made.”
New evidence brought before PEDW by Barry Biomass UK showed that there was a need to alter the enforcement notice against the biomass plant to accurately reflect the reported planning breaches which took place.
PEDW invited the council to consider how the alleged breach could be corrected and following a Vale of Glamorgan Council planning committee meeting on April 27, 2023 committee members agreed to put forward an amendment to the enforcement notice for PEDW’s consideration.
On July 17, the planning inspectorate sent a letter to the council stating that reporting on both the original notice and the suggested corrections would introduce significant additional uncertainty and complexity to the inquiry.
It added that there was a significant risk of extending the number of inquiry sitting days and the likelihood of requiring a significant period of adjournment.
There is no specified amount of money that the council will have to pay in PEDW’s decision letter, but it states that Barry Biomass UK is now invited to submit to the council details of costs to reach an agreement over the amount.
A number of planning applications submitted by Barry Biomass UK to regulate the biomass burning plant will be considered by Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee.
However, a date has not yet been set for when these applications will be determined. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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