The Vale of Glamorgan Council has prevailed in the High Court over local objectors who had challenged the council’s decision to give planning permission for the building of an “incinerator bottom ash recycling plant” at Wimbourne Rd in Barry .
The ash – which objectors claim is “hazardous” – is from the Viridor waste-burning plant at East Moors in Cardiff and will be carried by trucks routed through Dinas Powys to the new plant in Barry where it will be recycled .
The Vale Council’s planning committee had originally awarded planning permission for the Barry plant on September 3rd last year in a fraught meeting at which local people claimed they were not allowed to speak because of procedural complexities – and at which a bucket containing “ash” was produced in the council chamber.
PDN was informed that a member of the public, who was protesting about the scheme, allegedly dropped what was said to be a “bag of ash” from the public gallery of the Council Chamber into the area occupied by committee members. The proceedings were then temporarily halted .
Some councillors had been alarmed by the incident. One eyewitness said council officers were “furious“ and threatened to take legal proceedings against the alleged perpetrator. The Vale Council’s official video of the meeting was edited to excise the alleged ash-throwing incident so that it can’t be viewed by members of the public.
After that September 3rd meeting, objectors challenged the council’s decision on 6 separate grounds and began legal proceedings to obtain a “judicial review” [a means of challenging legal decisions made by public bodies]. They claimed the council had wrongly classified “bottom ash” as “non-hazardous”, that it had failed to consider dust emissions, and that it hadn’t properly consulted Public Health Wales.
Now the judge, the Hon. Mr Justice Coulson, has ruled that the application for judicial review “must fail” becauer it amounts to an attempt to “re-argue” the merits of the original decision and was therefore without foundation.
Marcus Goldsworthy, the Head of Regeneration & Planning at the Vale of Glamorgan Council, said: “The Council is extremely pleased with this decision which vindicates all the hard work of both officers within our planning team and the members of the planning committee itself. This application was considered properly and thoroughly prior to committee making a well-informed and reasoned decision.”
The Vale Council is now to seek to recoup all its legal costs from the claimants. The judicial review had been initiated in the name of a Barry resident Amanda Surringer who – because she is in receipt of benefits – is on legal aid, and therefore only liable to pay 50% of the costs. She is being supported financially by the “Stop Barry Ash Dump Campaign” which had raised £5,000 to take on the Vale Council.
Environmental campaigner Dr Max Wallis says “The judge over-rode our barrister’s arguments on very weak arguments . The judgement makes out the Vale Council was entitled to ignore impacts on health, just because they sent off an e-mail to the wrong place (Public Health Wales), not to the Cardiff & Vale Health Board (who are responsible locally) and got no reply. Of course that makes nonsense of requirements to consult and to prevent harm to health.”
Dr Wallis has thanked all who helped fund the case and Amanda Surringer for fronting it but says ” The changes in legal aid makes community resistance very costly.”.
Dr Wallis says “We did delay the Ash Dump and get enough publicity for Raymond Brown Ltd. to decide not to go ahead. They couldn’t start this April as intended, so they’re continuing to send the ash to Viridor’s incinerator site in England.”