Decision on incinerator near St Albans expected early this year

An artist's impression of the New Barnfield incinerator from the air

An artist's impression of the New Barnfield incinerator from the air - Credit: Archant

A decision on the High Court challenge of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles’ rejection of a massive waste burner near St Albans will be made in the New Year.

Veolia Environmental Services initiated the legal action after Mr Pickles turned down the giant waste company’s bid to build a county incinerator on Green Belt land in New Barnfield, just over one mile from Colney Heath.

Mr Justice Holgate has reserved his judgement until the New Year following the December 16-17 hearing.

Barrister Zoe Leventhal, for the Secretary of State, defended his decision along with barrister Wayne Beglan, who represented Welwyn Hatfield borough council.

Veolia’s legal challenge was presented by Rhodri Price Lewis QC.

Originally Veolia submitted six grounds of challenge, but one was withdrawn as a recent Appeal Court judgement had already made that ground invalid.

The firm argued that Mr Pickles had not taken into account as part of very special circumstances for building an incinerator that New Barnfield had been endorsed as an allocated waste site by a planning inspector.

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The Waste Sites Allocation Plan was adopted by Herts county council soon after the Secretary of State’s decision.

However barristers opposing Veolia’s challenge told the court that the Communities Secretary had given significant attention to the proposed allocation of New Barnfield in the waste plan and he had referred to it in his decision letter.

After the two-day hearing a spokeswoman for Hatfield Against Incineration said that should Veolia’s challenge succeed that would not mean the proposed incinerator would automatically go ahead.

If successful, the firm’s planning application would be referred back to Mr Pickles to reconsider.