High Court showdown over Vale incinerator AND claims £1 million ‘wasted’ by contract delays

Above an artist's impression of the Calvert incinerator. Below, BestW chairman Tom Morrison, the proposed site and rubbish being sorted at a similar-sized facility
Above an artist's impression of the Calvert incinerator. Below, BestW chairman Tom Morrison, the proposed site and rubbish being sorted at a similar-sized facility
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A council has been summoned to the High Court to defend a judicial review of its decision to build a 300,000 tonne incinerator at Calvert.

Campaign group Bucks Environmental Strategy For Treating Waste (BestW) is spending £25,000 to try and prove Bucks County Council failed to properly consider alternatives.

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The group argue that rather than driving all Bucks’ waste to a giant mass-burn facility with a 95ft chimney, the rubbish could undergo advanced thermal treatment at smaller sites in the county’s industrial parks.

The legal challenge comes as Bucks County Council is awaiting the results of its own High Court battle – which claims the government failed to properly consider alternatives when it approved HS2.

The £275 million incinerator is set to open in 2015, create 40 ongoing jobs and save Bucks taxpayers £150 million over 30 years – compared with not building it and paying increasing EU landfill fines.

Hogshaw farmer Tom Morrison, secretary of BestW and former chair of the now-disbanded Stop Aylesbury Vale Incineration (SAVI) group, said: “What we want to do is engage with Bucks County Council and modify the technology.”

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The 65 year old believes the thermal treatment option is cheaper and would not require a chimney. He also claims the planned incinerator will struggle to attract enough waste – as Bucks only produces roughly 100,000 tonnes of household rubbish a year and the site will have to compete with nearby facilities in Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Berkshire for the remaining 200,000 tonnes.

“What we want the judicial review to say is that it’s not viable. We want the council to have to ask us, as we have done a huge amount of work on it, for help to redraw the plans,” he said.

The judicial reviews will be heard by Mr Justice Singh from March 12-14. BestW is also bringing a judicial review against Natural England for supporting the incinerator plans.

A third judicial review is being brought by Waddesdon resident Ken Kolb, a former flood risk manager, suggesting the proposed Lower Greatmoor Farm site is not suitable for the incinerator.

Official opening of Newhaven incinerator

Official opening of Newhaven incinerator

When asked for its response, a county council spokesman said: “The council has responded to both judicial reviews and both have been allocated a date in court, March 12-14.”

Meanwhile, BestW has revealed that taxpayers have stumped-up £1 million for pre-engineering work on the Calvert incinerator.

Bucks County Council had to fork out the money because it had not signed a waste contract with the operating company by the end of last year.

The authority expects to recoup the outlay once the contract is signed, but BestW have dubbed it ‘an avoidable waste of our money’.

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When asked about the decision to pay for the work (taken back in April, ahead of the December trigger point), the spokesman replied: “Payment for the pre-engineering design work has been made by the council.”