A JUDGE has retired to consider his decision following a two-day legal hearing on the proposed Barton Renewable Energy Plant (BREP).

The hearing, which took place at Manchester Civil Justice Centre on February 10 and 11, was held following a legal challenge mounted by Trafford Council.

Councillors unanimously rejected plans for Peel Energy’s biomass plant in November 2011, but Peel appealed against the decision and a public inquiry was held in November 2012.

Following the inquiry, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, overturned Trafford Council’s decision and granted planning permission for BREP.

The council then sought advice from its lawyers and made the decision to launch a legal challenge, on which the final decision is expected on February 24.

Peel claim the plant, which is planned for land close to Barton Bridge, will generate low carbon electricity for up to 37,000 homes.

But the plans have been met with huge public opposition, led by the Breathe Clean Air Group (BCAG).

Trafford Council, Peel and the Secretary of State were all represented at the hearing, which sought to establish whether the Government’s planning inspector came to the correct decision following the public inquiry and whether Mr Pickles was subsequently correct to grant planning permission.

Vincent Fraser QC, for Trafford Council, questioned the value of waste wood in the ‘Waste Hirearchy’ – a classification of waste management options ordered in terms of their environmental impact.

Mr Fraser also argued there was not enough waste wood to justify BREP.

However, Martin Kingston, on behalf of Peel, argued that supply of waste wood varies and there is an allowance for flexibility in the interpretation of planning and environmental policies.