Campaign group issues fierce reaction to council statement on Barry biomass plant
Ted Peskett – Local Democracy Reporter
Vale of Glamorgan Council has been accused of capitulating after an enforcement notice it served on a biomass burning plant was quashed.
The Welsh Government’s chief planning body, Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW), last week quashed the local authority’s enforcement notice which it served on Barry Biomass UK No.2 Limited’s plant on Woodham Road in 2021.
Shortly after the council issued its enforcement notice, which it served on the plant due a number of discrepancies with the approved plans, Barry Biomass appealed it to PEDW.
The planning inspectorate said it found the notice to be flawed and after an unsuccessful attempt by the council to modify it, it was quashed on August 22.
Campaigners Docks Incinerator Action Group (DIAG), who are opposed to the incinerator, said it was disappointed with the council’s statement on the decision and “disgusted” with what it called a capitulation.
The statement by the local authority’s deputy leader, Cllr Bronwen Brooks, expressed disappointment over PEDW’s refusal to accept the amended notice and claimed that it appeared to be giving more weight to the views of the developers in the appeal process.
Cllr Brooks said the council will not be immediately re-serving a notice and will instead await the outcome of a planning committee meeting, scheduled for this Autumn, on plans to regulate the biomass burning plant.
A DIAG spokesperson said: “The Inspector’s decision is yet another example of the Vale being criticised for incompetence, its inability to deal with large planning applications lawfully.
“We are surprised and disappointed that the Vale Council has rolled over and conceded everything to big business instead of ensuring that our legal rights are protected.
“DIAG remains firmly of the view that, dealt with professionally and lawfully, this incinerator would not have been allowed at this site.
“DIAG is collating the amazing list of bad decisions since 2008 to support a call for a Public Inquiry.
“For the time being nobody in authority accepts errors were made. This is the breeding ground for the same errors to continue into the future.”
The spokesperson added that DIAG wrote to the council offering it help and identified more than 10 reasons to judicially review the inspectors decision on the enforcement notice.
It wasn’t until February 2023 that PEDW invited the council to consider how the alleged breach could be corrected.
The council suggested an amendment to the enforcement notice in April, but the planning inspectorate later requested that the council withdraw the enforcement notice.
Vale of Glamorgan Council view it as “most unfortunate”, according to Cllr Brooks, that it has taken PEDW as long as it has to get to its current position.
The DIAG spokesperson said: “Barry residents will be paying via the Green Levy on their fuel bills for the dubious benefit of breathing more pollution; for many more large lorries on our roads; for noise and light pollution; for wondering if there will be a serious accident possibly due to it being sited on a plot of land subject to flooding where the Welsh Government says an incinerator is an unacceptable development.
“DIAG has no doubt that the history of this incinerator through the planning processes makes a mockery of Welsh Planning and Environmental Law.
“It is very sad as local democracy seems to have been lost along the way.
“The Welsh Government is under an obligation to sort this out. All they need to do is issue a Stop Notice. Let the developers start again and deal with matters lawfully.”
Leader of the Plaid Cymru group at Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cllr Ian Johnson, has called on the local authority to stand up for residents.
Cllr Johnson, who represents the ward of Buttrills, said: “People in Barry don’t want an incinerator on Barry Docks, close to the town centre and the Waterfront.
The council stated that the original aims of the serving of the notice were to ensure that the development would not become lawful without the required conditions of compliance and to encourage the developers to submit a new planning application to regularise the development.
Cllr Brooks said: “In both cases the service of the notice has been successful in clarifying the legal position of what has been built and in ensuring that a formal planning application is submitted to allow the Council to consider the as built scheme against current policy.”
The alleged discrepancies with the original planning application included the layout and elevation of the development; additional structures, plant and equipment; and an extension of the site to the north.
Barry Biomass UK No.2 Ltd., managed by Aviva Investors, has always argued that the enforcement notice served on the Woodham Road plant was inaccurate and disproportionate.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.