News

Concerns raised as Cardiff planning officer appears to celebrate power plant vote

10 Feb 2021 3 minutes Read
The steelworks on Rover Way in Cardiff that is the site for the new power plant. Photo Alex Seabrook

Alex Seabrook-local democracy reporter

Concerns have been raised after a planning officer working for Cardiff council appeared to celebrate a controversial vote passing.

A wood-burning power plant in Splott received renewed planning permission on January 27, despite worries about potential air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

The planning committee meets in public to decide whether to grant permission for controversial developments, like this power plant. Its meetings are broadcast live on the council’s website.

As the vote to renew permission for the Splott biomass plant passed, the planning officer presenting the application, Tim Walter, appeared to celebrate the vote passing. Planning officers are supposed to be neutral and impartial.

A clip of the committee recording was shared on Twitter by Cardiff Friends of the Earth, local environmental campaigners. They tweeted: “This may be innocent, but we question the objectivity of planning officers when they celebrate the decision at the end.”

Two local MPs commented on the video expressing their concerns at how the planning officer appeared to celebrate the vote.

Stephen Doughty, Cardiff South and Penarth, said: “Concerned to see this. I’ll be raising with the head of planning and asking for an explanation.”

‘Concerning’

Anna McMorrin, Cardiff North, said: “This is very concerning. I’ll also be raising this with the head of planning.”

Cardiff council said Mr Walter apologised and was reminded to maintain “professional standards of behaviour”.

A council spokesperson said: “This matter has been discussed with the officer and he has been reminded of the importance of maintaining the highest professional standards of behaviour in meetings.

“Having seen the recording he has unreservedly apologised and fully understands how his reaction might be misconstrued.

“He has told us he was expressing relief that the recommendation was approved as a considerable amount of work, over many months, had gone into what was a very complex case.

“The council wants to be clear that this application had been assessed over many months, and several officers were involved in reaching the recommendation, so it would be inaccurate to assume that this officer was solely responsible for the recommendation or had final say on it.

“All officer reports reflect considerable analysis of relevant matters and require a manager’s sign off.”

The proposed biomass power plant is planned for land off Rover Way, near to the Celsa steelworks.

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