Priti Patel slams Environment Agency over incinerator plans
PUBLISHED: 11:57 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:58 07 January 2020
Home Secretary and Witham MP Priti Patel has hit out at the Environment Agency over a decision to give a controversial new incinerator their approval.
The plans, if successful, would see the proposed new incinerator at the former Rivenhall Airfield house a 35-metre high chimney instead of an earlier agreed 58m.
Previously, the Environment Agency (EA), who had granted developers an environmental permit in 2017, feared the incinerator would emit high levels of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide and heavy metals. But in a recent U-turn, the agency has proposed agreeing stricter limits on the emissions put forward by applicants Gent Fairhead.
But despite the agreement, Mrs Patel has hit back at the "flawed" decision which she believes could lead to "considerable harm" to the local environment.
Mrs Patel said: "This decision defies common sense and it is unclear why the widespread concerns of communities across this part of Essex have been ignored.
"There remain many unanswered questions and the Environment Agency has failed to explain their decision and have not yet fully responded to the many concerns expressed by the public about the permit application.
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"The Environment Agency must recognise this and give more local communities the opportunity to question this decision and respond to the consultation."
Planning permission for the incinerator, which could burn up to 600,000 tonnes of waste per year, was first granted a decade ago under a Labour government.
The EA has said their decision comes after carefully considering the application over 12 months, including a previous public consultation that received 137 responses.
An EA spokesman said: "We are keen to hear from anyone who wants to have their say on our proposal before we make a final decision.
"The draft decision document also provides details of our consideration of those issues/concerns raised by the public during the consultation earlier this year."
Gent Fairhead say the incinerator would divert waste from landfill, while recovering valuable materials from waste and producing enough electricity to power 60,000 homes.
The public consultation stage is due to last until February 6.
A drop-in event will also be held on Friday, 10 January 2020, between 2pm and 7pm at Rivenhall Village Hall, 54 Church Rd, Rivenhall, Witham CM8 3PH.