The Conservative-led Vale of Glamorgan Council re-affirmed last night its outright opposition to the building and operation of the huge and highly-controversial incinerator plant in Barry Docks – the effluent from which is forecast to affect Penarth.
In last night’s Vale Council meeting Cllr Amelia Collins (Plaid Cymru Castleland Ward) asked Deputy Leader Cllr Hunter Jarvie (Conservative Cowbridge) “How does the Vale of Glamorgan Council intend to respond to the most recent consultation from Natural Resources Wales where they say that they are ‘minded’ to grant a permit to the Biomass Ltd site on Barry Docks?”
Cllr Jarvie replied ” The current administration [ i.e. the present Conservative led- Vale Council] has consistently been opposed to the development of the gasification plant at Woodham Road, Barry – and maintains that position.”
Cllr Jarvie said specialist council officers are reviewing the detail in the “draft permit” for the plant being prepared by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) [ the heavily-criticised QUANGO run by the Welsh Labour Government]. The council will respond formally on the technical issues directly to NRW by the end of the consultation period – January 22nd 2018.
Cllr Jarvie said that because NRW are the “regulators” it will be up to them to decide whether or not to issue an Environmental Permit – but he said council officers would raise concerns with NRW if it looks as though environmental standards won’t be met.
Posing a supplementary question, Cllr Collins said “Many of the complaints from local residents in the consultation were about the planning system. “ She called for an “open and transparent investigation into the planning process here to ensure that it was – and remains – all above-board”
Cllr Jarvie said he was puzzled by the question because the planning process was “totally open and transparent and fully debated.” He noted that the planning process was “quasi-judicial” [ i.e. the planning committee acts independently of the “executive” or “cabinet” of the council and invokes its own legal powers] .
Cllr Jarvie understood that on the first occasion the council planning committee had refused the application for the incinerator plant – but that decision had been overturned on appeal to the Welsh Government . A subsequent planning application had left the council planning committee with no option but to agree.
In a further question on the incinerator project, Cllr Vincent Bailey (Conservative Dyfan Ward, Barry ) asked “Following Natural Resources Wales’ confirmation that it is “minded to issue a permit” for the Biomass Plant, will the Council provide an update on how air monitoring would be undertaken if operations at the site were to commence?”
Cllr Jarvie confirmed that the operating company would have to fulfill the requirements of the “Emissions to Air Schedule”. Air monitoring would have to be carried out by an accredited independent contractor using CDM continuous monitoring equipment. He said council officers would continue to monitor Nitrogen Dioxide levels.
In a supplementary question, Cllr Bailey in view of the fact that it was likely that what he called “this abomination” would go on he called for the council to write to NRW to ask for “proper independent data monitoring” and that the Vale should make that appointment rather than the NRW – an organisation which he described as a “poacher turned gamekeeper”.
Cllr Jarvie said he had been assured the Vale Council’s officers had the necessary expertise but wanted to re-iterate that “I and the rest of my cabinet colleagues and all members of the council – certainly in my group [ i.e. the Conservatives] are opposed to this development ”