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Disappointment for campaigners as Essex incinerator plan given go-ahead

PUBLISHED: 16:40 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 18:12 12 September 2017

District and county councillor James Abbott, and residents Phil Wren, Nick Unsworth and Eleanor Unsworth are campaigning against a proposed incinerator at Rivenhall Airfield. Pictured in 2015. Picture: SU ANDERSON/ARCHANT

District and county councillor James Abbott, and residents Phil Wren, Nick Unsworth and Eleanor Unsworth are campaigning against a proposed incinerator at Rivenhall Airfield. Pictured in 2015. Picture: SU ANDERSON/ARCHANT

Campaigners have expressed disappointment after a permit was granted for an incinerator in mid-Essex.

Gent Fairhead & Co plan to build an Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) at Rivenhall Airfield, which would process rubbish – including by burning some of it.

Local residents formed a protest group, Parishes Against Incinerator (PAIN), to oppose the plans and have been backed by Witham MP Priti Patel. They raised concerns over pollution in the area caused by fumes from the incinerator.

Now the Environment Agency has approved an environmental permit for the facility, having rejected the scheme a year ago. Since then Gent Hairhead & Co has raised the chimney height in a bid to mitigate the pollution risk.

In a statement the company said: “Gent Fairhead & Co Limited is pleased to have received the environmental permit and is committed to operating the facility to either meet, or better, the permitted emission levels.

“In approving the permit, the Environment Agency addressed the concerns local councillors and members of the public had expressed about the height of the stack and other environmental issues.

“In its determination of the permit, the Environment Agency concluded the proposed facility is unlikely to contribute to any breach of the relevant air quality standards for human health and the environment.”

A planning application to increase the height of the chimney stack in line with the permit currently sits with Essex County Council, while all other approvals have been granted.

Ms Patel said: “The decision to grant a permit for the incinerator is deeply disappointing.

“Thousands of local residents will be upset by this decision and remain concerned about the impact of this site. The incinerator is not welcome in this location and there remain many issues that have not been addressed.”

Nick Unsworth, from PAIN, said: “It is not a surprise but we are concerned.

“We are concerned that this goes against previous advice and that the reports cited were written in 2010.

“We are going to challenge it, and we are seeing how we do that.”

Mr Unsworth said there would also be opposition to the planning application, with concerns about County Hall ruling on the development when it intends to use it.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “Following consultation we have now decided to issue a permit to the applicant.

“We have considered all the relevant factors, including all public consultation responses, and have reached the conclusion the incinerator proposals will not give rise to any significant pollution of the environment or harm to human health.

“We are confident the stringent controls imposed by UK and European legislation coupled with effective day-to-day regulation will safeguard human health in the locality of the facility.

“Our conclusion is in line with current advice from Public Health England.”

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