Fresh hope in fight to stop Hatfield incinerator plan

ANTI-incinerator campaigners are hailing a decision by the Secretary of State to put a hold on a massive facility recently approved to be built on Green Belt land to burn 380,000 tonnes of waste one mile from Colney Heath.

Secretary of State for communities and local government Eric Pickles has issued a “holding direction” to Herts county council (HCC), which ignored 6,300 objections to give the green light to the incinerator at New Barnfield, Hatfield.

That prevents the council from issuing planning permission to Veolia, and effectively stops development in its tracks until Mr Pickles decides whether it should be called-in.

Community angst over the county incinerator on Colney Heath’s doorstep continues to escalate with locals reiterating their opposition to what has been dubbed a “blot on the landscape”.

Colney Heath parish council was one of several organisations to ask for the call-in.

In a strongly-worded letter it said the incinerator will have a “huge effect on daily life”, be detrimental to nearby heritage sites including Brocket Hall and Hatfield House while the length of the plume from the facility could stretch a maximum 282m at night.

Lorries carrying hundreds of thousands of tonnes of industrial, domestic and medical waste material will be travelling on residential streets seven days a week.

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Campaign group Hatfield Against Incineration (HAI), which also asked for the scheme to be called-in, has praised and thanked Mr Pickles for his intervention.

HAI executive member Paul Zukowskyj described it as the first hurdle towards a call-in.

He added: “It would seem the Secretary of State is looking at this issue much more closely than any of the Conservative councillors on the committee [which approved the scheme] did.

“He has not rejected our issues and arguments out of hand, as the councillors did.

“If the application is called-in I have every confidence that an independent, impartial and experienced inspector will realise almost immediately what an abomination this plan is and will advise the Secretary of State to reject it.”

He said there is an “over-capacity” of incinerators in the UK with facilities existing or proposed for construction in North London, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hampshire.

Also, Veolia is applying for permission to build and operate a 320,000 tonne per annum incinerator at Fieldes Lock in Hoddesdon.

Susan Salter, a spokeswoman for Colney Heath residents fighting the scheme, said it was “amazing” to obtain the holding direction from Mr Pickles.

She added: “It is great to know he has taken everybody’s concerns on board.

“People are tearful, they are mortified about the incinerator, and some are thinking of leaving Colney Heath.”

St Albans district councillor for London Colney Dreda Gordon and Colney Heath councillor Chris Brazier said there was a danger local villages would be “surrounded by waste disposal units” as construction of a waste digester was recently approved for construction at Coursers Farm in Coursers Road.

Herts Lib Dems have labelled the scheme a “blot on the landscape”.