St Albans residents welcome incinerator decision

Council rejects bid to build municipal waste incinerator near hospital

A SITE in Hatfield has been chosen above Harper Lane in St Albans as the location for a new county waste incinerator plant.

As revealed in the Herts Advertiser this week, the county council opted today to build the incinerator at New Barnfield in Hatfield instead of the other shortlisted site in Harper Lane.

The Harper Lane site had met with widespread opposition from local residents and civic groups and St Albans MP, Anne Main, commenting after the decision, said: “The Harper Lane site was wholly inappropriate; the already busy site entrance would have been made worse and the protected aquifer would have been compromised.

“This is a strategic Green Belt location and I am pleased that the site has been rejected.”

County councillor Caroline Clapper who represents Watling division, added: “I am delighted and - I have to say - somewhat relieved at the outcome of this process.”

She thanked members of the action group WING - Watling Incinerator Group - for mounting such a strong defence in such a short space of time and added: “The people of Radlett and surrounding areas came together so quickly, so intelligently and so effectively in the face of this potential threat and I am extremely proud to be their local representative.”

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The county council will now finalise contract negotiations with Veolia over the New Barnfield site having chosen it over E.ON which was hoping to build on the Lafarge Aggregates site in Harper Lane.

Clive Glover, vice-chairman of WING, said: “I’m relieved but disappointed they are still going ahead with the incinerator which I think is a costly solution. I don’t think it provides value for money, but obviously there is a long way to go through the planning process. Harper Lane was an inappropriate site. I would like to thank everyone who supported us over the past few months.”

Radlett resident Hugh Jones added: “I am pleased we are not going to get it, but sorry they have decided to go with an incinerator - which we are still going to have to pay for.”

During the debate Cllr Clapper, told the waste management panel that met before the cabinet decision that the immediate neighbourhood of the Harper Lane site included a hospital, a school for autistic children and was in close proximity to tourist attraction Butterfly World.

She reiterated that the site was situated on a primary drinking water source and was “plagued by traffic issues.”

John Wood, the county council’s director of environment and commercial services, said Veolia’s bid, “was the best solution for dealing with our household waste for all of Hertfordshire’s taxpayers.”

At a press conference after the announcement, the media was told there had been “no done deals or smoke screens” in deciding to choose Veolia over E.ON and that the bid for Harper Lane “came in at the last stage.”

There had been complaints from local residents that they had had little time to fight the proposal to build an incinerator close to Radlett.

Jean-Dominique Mallet, chief executive officer of Veolia Environmental Services, said: “We are delighted to have been selected as preferred bidder. An extensive consultation and community engagement process will be undertaken as a basis from which to share the design concept and development proposals ahead of the submission of a planning application towards the end of 2011.”