Decision day over Radlett incinerator site

A MASSIVE waste incinerator looks set to be built in neighbouring Hatfield rather than above a water aquifer in the St Albans district close to Radlett.

Hertfordshire County Council will officially vote on the location of the controversial plant at a cabinet meeting today and it is understood that their officers are recommending that it should be sited in Hatfield rather than on the Lafarge Aggregates site at Harper Lane, Frogmore.

The council is pressing ahead with the new incinerator despite months of staunch opposition from residents close both to Harper Lane and the New Barnfield site in Hatfield which were the two shortlisted contenders. E.ON is proposing to build at Harper Lane and Veolia is vying for the Hatfield site.

But the Herts Advertiser has learned that county officers are recommending Hatfield, with the panel likely to choose Veolia, a subsidiary of a French corporation, ahead of German company E.ON as its preferred bidder.

The expected decision has been welcomed by St Albans MP Anne Main, who recently spoke in Parliament against last year’s sudden emergence of a bid to build the incinerator at the site at Harper Lane as a “blow too far” for residents.

She said: “If it is definite that it doesn’t come to St Albans this will be absolutely the right decision. It is a Green Belt site on a busy road. It will be decided on planning grounds but I would be delighted if it doesn’t come to St Albans. I am very, very hopeful that the rumours are true, because it would be a huge weight off residents’ minds.”

St Albans council portfolio holder for planning and county councillor Chris Brazier, also cautiously welcomed the expected announcement. He said: “I would be very relieved if it did not come to Harper Lane because I thought it was the wrong site.”

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He encouraged the panel to seek alternatives to incineration when disposing of Hertfordshire’s waste.

Residents of both South St Albans and Radlett as well as Hatfield have been left fuming during the council’s procurement process, and vocal action groups were swiftly established to highlight a range of concerns, including building the plant on Green Belt land, increasing local traffic and the visual intrusion of a stack.

Questions were also raised about possibly harmful emissions and whether an incinerator was needed at all with residents suggesting increased recycling instead.

The incinerator, anticipated to be completed by March 2015, will process up to 345,000 tonnes of waste per annum.

Residents around Harper Lane garnered support against the controversial waste from energy plant after forming Watling Incinerator Group (WING), which attracted a pledge of support from prominent international human rights lawyer, Radlett resident Lord David Pannick QC.

Environmentalists had written to councillors asking them to delay today’s decision until the government releases its waste strategy review in May. In the letter they said: “The review may well have changes and recommendations which the people of Hertfordshire would expect you to take into account before committing to a 25-year contract at significant expense to council taxpayers at a time of economic cuts.”

But a council spokeswoman confirmed that the decision would be made today as planned.

The Cabinet’s announcement on its preferred bidder will be publicised on the Herts Ad website