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High Court gives the green light for Barton Renewable Energy Plant
12:22pm Monday 24th February 2014 in News
A HIGH Court judge has rejected Trafford Council’s last-ditch attempt to block the controversial Barton Renewable Energy Plant (BREP) scheme.
The council had challenged Communities Secretary Eric Pickles’ approval for the plant, which Peel Energy has earmarked for land near Barton Bridge in Davyhulme.
But the judge ruled today that Mr Pickles’ decision had been sound.
Jon England, project manager at Peel Energy, said: “We are grateful to the court for considering the issues raised by Trafford Council.
“We now intend to focus our attention on completing the work necessary for the plant to be built so it can start generating renewable electricity for the homes and businesses of Greater Manchester.”
But the Breathe Clean Air Group (BCAG), which spearheaded the campaign to oppose it, hit out at the ruling as ‘a backward step for democracy and localism’.
The spokesman continued: “The local communities and the local council could not have shouted any louder that this was the wrong technology in the wrong location. The decision should have been a firm ‘NO’.
“We thank Trafford and its councillors for standing alongside us to take this case to the High Court.
“We are encouraged that they have started to take the issue of air quality so seriously.”
Cllr Sean Anstee, the leader-elect of Trafford Council, said he was disappointed at the decision.
He said: “Trafford Conservatives remain on the side of residents and have instructed officers of the council to outline additional steps that could be taken ensure the continuing quality of life for residents in Davyhulme.”
Cllr David Acton, the leader of Trafford's Labour group, said: "This decision is a hammer blow to the Trafford community, particularly for those living in Davyhulme, Flixton and Urmston area.
"It is also a stab in the back for local democracy where the Conservative Government Minister, Eric Pickles, supported by a legal judgement, ignored the vast majority of local people who have fought tirelessly to try to protect the air that we breathe.
"I pay tribute to the BCAG and all the local people who have battled for several years to oppose this incineration biomass plant. The decision flies in the face of common sense and will do untold damage to the air that we breathe, in an area which already has an unacceptable high level of pollution.
"We will now need regroup and consider the next move in our fight to stop this plant ever going ahead."
A spokesman for Trafford Council said: "Trafford Council is disappointed with the decision to dismiss its application regarding the biomass in Davyhulme. The council is now considering its position and will also concentrate its efforts on ensuring the number of preconditions, which were set out in the decision for the biomass plant, are upheld to safeguard the health of the people of Flixton and Davyhulme."
Cllr Lisa Cooke who has worked closely with the Breathe Clean Air Group, said: “The community has joined together to oppose this plant and it is bitterly disappointing to see its wishes overruled in court today.”
Davyhulme East Cllr Mike Cornes added: "The strength of feeling against this plant has been felt locally.
“I have spoken to many residents who have been galvanised by this issue and the judgement today will dismay members of our community. This is the single biggest issue I have received representation on in my 10 years as a councillor."
Flixton Ward Cllr Viv Ward said ‘As chairman of the planning committee that unanimously opposed the original application, I have supported residents against the plant throughout the process to date. As a councillor and as a resident myself, I am extremely disappointed with today’s outcome."
Davyhulme West Cllr June Reilly said: ‘This is not the outcome I wanted to see and I welcome the steps to be taken by the Conservative administration to explore any other options that may be available to secure the environment for Davyhulme and the surrounding areas.”
Dennis Wrigley of ‘Friends of Flixton’ and leader of the nationwide Maranatha Community based in Trafford, has sent an urgent appeal to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, to ask for their direct intervention.
He said: "All the political parties, a vast range of local groups and churches, together with all the local representatives on the council and in Parliament, have made it clear that this development is totally unacceptable."
Peel claims the plant will generate low carbon electricity for up to 37,000 homes.
But the plans have let to fierce opposition, led by BCAG and the council.
Trafford’s planniing committee 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, Mr Pickles, overturned Trafford Council’s decision and granted planning permission for BREP.
The council then launched its legal challenge.
The council then launched its legal challenge. This was rejected on Monday following a two day hearing at Manchester Civil Justice Centre on February 10 and 11.