On 6 January 2015, over a year since the public inquiry into the appeal opened, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has granted an appeal against Gloucester County Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for Urbaser Balfour Beatty’s Javelin Park Energy from Waste (‘EfW’).

The decision is an interesting example of the Secretary of State applying the recently published waste guidance contained in the online Planning Practise Guidance. On the frequently raised issues of self-sufficiency and proximity, the Secretary of State relied on the PPG to consider that while it should be the aim that each waste authority is self-sufficient this aim should be considered in the context of having the flexibility to ensure the efficient use of capacity.

On whether the project amounts to a ‘low carbon’ generation the Secretary of State took a broad view, acknowledging that carbon emissions may be a consequence of EfW, however this should be seen in the broader context of the move to a low carbon economy by moving away from fossil fuels.

  Another interesting facet of the decision is the Secretary of State’s approach to heritage assets in the light of the Court of Appeal’s decision in the Barnwell Manor case. The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that the harm would not be substantial and in accordance with Barnwell Manor afforded considerable weight to the desirability of preserving the setting the listed buildings.

However, in fact he found the harm to listed buildings to be limited and did not outweigh the project’s contribution to the Government’s overall energy policy and climate change policy, in moving waste up the waste hierarchy and meeting a need for residual waste treatment capacity.

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