Latest progress

Although I have been rather quiet of late in terms of newsletters, we have been beavering away behind the scenes on a number of fronts, which are beginning to show some results.

There are no fewer than five matters before various EU bodies concerning illegal state aid, human rights breaches and breaches of EU law. We understand that all these issues are actively – if frustratingly slowly – being considered by the EU. Any one of them, if found in favour of the petitioners, would have a major bearing on the Allerton Park scheme.

Furthermore, the Local Government Ombudsman is considering one matter we have brought to the attention of the office of the LGO and a further issue is in the process of being raised with the LGO concerning the behaviour of North Yorkshire County Council during the planning process.

We are also challenging the Section 106 agreement struck as part of the AWRP scheme as the local community would not benefit fully from the c£2 million that has been earmarked under Section 106 – around half is due to go to a local landowner to re-build perimeter walls and repair listed buildings, the cost of which should not be met from public monies.

You may also be aware that North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council have dropped their Judicial Review of the Government’s decision to withdraw £125 million worth of PFI credits for the scheme. This inevitably undermines the financial viability of the scheme.

The latest news on this front is in Bradford and Calderdale, where their incinerator scheme had PFI credits withdrawn at the same time. Not only has this council dropped its JR of the Government’s decision, BUT IT HAS ALSO DECIDED TO DITCH THE SCHEME ENTIRELY because it is no longer financially viable. This news emerged last week, although it appears the decision was taken late last year.

We are continuing to work closely with local MPs and MEPs, who have been very supportive in opposing the Allerton Park scheme, as well as lobbying county, city and borough councillors.

All the latest information we have suggests the scheme is becoming less and less viable. As we forecast, many of the financial assumptions that underpin the case made by NYCC and CYC to justify the scheme are proving to be inaccurate.

We are striving to demonstrate to councillors and others that scrapping the Allerton Park scheme would save money and mean cuts being made elsewhere – for example, to rural bus service subsidies and social care – could be reversed.

It would be dishonest to say we were not disappointed when our JR was unsuccessful, as that would have stopped the scheme in its tracks. That said, there remain many ways in which we can, and are, challenging the scheme and we remain optimistic that it will not – in the long run – go ahead.

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Leave to appeal not granted

You may have heard via the media that Marton cum Grafton Parish Council were not granted leave to appeal when they appeared before the Court of Appeal earlier this week.

I am sure you will share our disappointment at this news. Throughout we have sought and taken the very best legal advice from leading experts in the field of waste and we are very grateful for all the support – financial and moral – that enabled the campaign to pursue this legal challenge.

This means that we will not need to call in any of the pledges, which were made with such generosity.

Although the legal challenge was ultimately unsuccessful, it has substantially delayed the scheme during which time the idiocy of the proposal has become increasingly apparent. With every month that goes by yet more evidence emerges that the Allerton Park incinerator will be a massively expensive White Elephant that will burden the council tax payers of North Yorkshire for a generation if it goes ahead. Worse still this comes at a time when NYCC are debating further cuts to services in order to balance future budgets.

Although this week’s news ends the legal challenge to the grant of planning permission, it in no way ends our campaign against the Allerton Park incinerator.

The European Union’s Competitions Commissioner is investigating whether illegal state subsidies underpin the scheme, and we are grateful for the support of our local MEP, Timothy Kirkhope, in helping initiate this inquiry.

We are in correspondence with DEFRA and the Treasury in support of the decision to withdraw £125m worth of Private Finance Initiative monies. Without this subsidy, the project makes even less sense.

And we’ll be challenging the final business case when it is submitted to NYCC next year as well as continuing our correspondence with the funding institutions from whom loans will be sought to build the plant.

We’re meeting with our MPs, Nigel Adams and Andrew Jones, who have both backed our campaign, to take forward all the remaining avenues through which we can challenge the plans.

We remain baffled that, against all the evidence, NYCC continue to pursue this unnecessary and expensive scheme when the alternatives are so much cheaper and more environmentally sound.

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Down but not out

You may already have heard – thanks to the speed with which the media moves – that our judicial review has been unsuccessful.

This is clearly a very disappointing outcome for all of us who have supported the campaign opposing this crazy project. It is important to understand the judgment doesn’t mean the courts think the incinerator is a good idea – rather it does not agree that aspects of the planning process were flawed. The judgment is available in full on the Marton-cum-Grafton website and will be posted on the NYWAG site. (You can read the full judgement here).

We will be reviewing the judgment with our advisers to explore whether there are further legal steps we can take. The judgment runs to some 25 pages and it will take some time to consider. There’ll be a further newsletter in a week or two to let you know what’s happening.

It would be wrong to say this news is anything other than deeply disappointing, however it does not mean our fight is over. We will be taking legal advice on the possibility of an appeal and will continue to pursue through the European Commission our belief that illegal subsidies from the public purse underpin the scheme. We’re also fully behind the Government in its decision to withdraw Private Finance Initiative credits – worth £125M over the life of the scheme – after it decided the scheme was unnecessary and did not represent value-for-money.

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DATE FIXED FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW HEARING! FUNDS NEEDED NOW!

A hearing of Marton-cum-Grafton’s application to quash the planning consent to build a giant incinerator at Allerton Park is to be held on 30 and 31 July 2013.

This is the objective towards which we have been working since North Yorkshire County Council granted consent earlier this year to treat all of the county’s municipal collected waste at Allerton Park near Knaresborough.

Whilst many people may think the battle was won when Government decided the plant was unnecessary and withdrew £125M of public money from the project, this is not the case. North Yorkshire County Council appears as determined as ever to build this wasteful and hugely expensive white elephant.

Winning at Judicial Review is the only way to ensure the plant is not built in its present form and we URGENTLY need your support to raise funds for this legal battle.

Many of you have made promises or given pledges to help pay for the legal team’s efforts and we now need you to send your money ASAP to the campaign.

If you have already given, please consider giving more: a generation yet to be born, as well as tens of thousands of residents and council taxpayers, will thank you for it.

Details of how you can contribute are at the end of this newsletter. All money raised by NYWAG is being committed to supporting Marton-cum-Grafton Parish Council’s action.

If you would like to help raise funds, want further information or meet with the team to discuss the process, please email steve@nywag.org.

OTHER NEWS:

Minerals and Waste Joint Plan – Many of you will have received a brief document about the plan either by post or email and you will have been asked to reply by June 28th.

We have been scrutinising this document and the related material, which is proving an enormous undertaking.

We will reply in full but our initial response is

  • There is not enough time for members of the public or Parish Councils to read all the information and analyse it;
  • There needs to be much more emphasis on dealing with waste locally – the proximity principle;
  • There needs to be much more re-use and recycling;
  • NYCC should delay the final commitment to the Allerton incinerator until the Minerals and Waste Joint Plan has been completed.

We recommend that you request hard copies of all the documents and the Sustainability documents from Colin Holm on 01609 536493.

Ways to send money to support the campaign
• Send a cheque made payable to “NYWAG” for as much as you can afford to The Treasurer, Nywag, High Farm Grange, Hopperton HG5 8NX.
• Bank transfer to NYWAG – account no 81280139, sort code 40-12-28
• Paypal – click one of the “Donate” buttons on the right

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Court action could be a month away – time for vital fund raising

COURT ACTION COULD BE A MONTH AWAY
SO TIME MAY BE SHORT FOR VITAL FUND-RAISING!
PLEASE HELP NOW!

You will have heard that the Government has withdrawn £125M of Private Finance Initiative funding from the Allerton Park incinerator. This is a serious blow to North Yorkshire County Council’s plans BUT IT HAS NOT KILLED THE SCHEME – both NYCC and AmeyCespa are trying to replace this funding and whilst the planning approval remains in force, the scheme could still go ahead. So we MUST try to have the planning approval quashed. NYWAG and the Parish Councils Group are supporting the Marton cum Grafton Parish Council application to the High Court for a Judicial Review of the grant of planning permission.

A big “THANK YOU!” to the many individuals and communities who have supported us thus far in raising funds to fight this battle, BUT we have not yet raised all that is needed.

It can take a year for a Judicial Review to come to court, BUT North Yorkshire County Council has said it will ask the High Court to hear the case quickly. So we urgently need your help to raise quickly the final sums. This is because the court may not hear our case unless we can show we have the necessary funds in place.

We have instructed and are working with one of the best QCs in this field. He has experience of winning cases like this. He says we have a good case. We can win this with your support.

We have raised many thousands of pounds so far. We now need a further £20,000 to take the case to a successful conclusion. That is very achievable with your support.

Whilst any donation you can make, or any fund-raising you can undertake, will bring us closer to our target PLEASE remember if we can finally stop this scheme, every North Yorkshire household will benefit by stopping the huge cuts to public services that are already happening to fund this scheme. Just £20 from each of our supporters would mean we can fight the case through the High Court, but PLEASE, if you can afford a little more invest now in this legal action to protect our services, reduce our taxes and protect our environment.

Ways to send money to support the campaign

  • Send a cheque made payable to “NYWAG” for as much as you can afford to The Treasurer, Nywag, High Farm Grange, Hopperton HG5 8NX.
  • Bank transfer to NYWAG – account no 81280139, sort code 40-12-28
  • Paypal – go to www.nywag.org and click one of the “Donate” buttons on the right

County Council Elections 2nd May – Alongside raising funds, we are putting pressure on NYCC candidates in the forthcoming elections. NYWAG is not and never has been a party political organisation. We support any candidate who supports our cause and would encourage you to do the same. Please ask your candidate how they stand on the incinerator issue, so that they know it is important to constituents all over North Yorkshire.

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Government puts the skids under AWRP!!

By now it’s almost certain that you have heard yesterday’s great news – that Defra has withdrawn Private Finance Initiative support for the incinerator! That puts a £65M hole in the finance for the project (rising to £125M over the life of the plant) and we believe this means the odds are now firmly against the incinerator going ahead.

It’s theoretically possible that NYCC and City of York could try to raise the additional finance, but if they did so, the contracts would have to be re-tendered and further Full Council approvals would be needed. This would mean a delay of years, would completely change the financial equations and would almost certainly mean that developments in waste management would make the incinerator even less viable.

Defra’s statement announcing the decision not to fund three incinerator projects that could have benefited from PFI monies was very brief. It basically said Government had concluded there was already sufficient incinerator capacity built or in the pipeline to meet the country’s commitment to reduce waste going to landfill and no further incinerators were needed. It also urged councils to review waste management strategies to make better use of what is a valuable resource: so much the same as we have been telling NYCC for years!

The two councils’ leaders have been expressing their shock and surprise at the decision given the planning application was not called in for determination at a public inquiry. Our take on that is there may well have been discussions going on between Defra, the Treasury and the Communities Department (the last of which makes call-in decisions) to the effect that there was no point in calling it in as PFI funding was to be withdrawn. In those circumstances a call-in would have resulted in an expensive – but pointless – public inquiry since the scheme couldn’t proceed without PFI monies. Also, since the Treasury’s value for money scrutiny of the proposal could only happen once the planning process had been concluded, a public inquiry would have forced a delay of the announcement of withdrawal of PFI funds – and Government needs to tighten its finances now, not in a year or two’s time.

All that said, NYCC’s track record does not suggest common sense prevails in the corridors of County Hall and it is possible the councils may decide to try to raise finance elsewhere. If they were successful, then the incinerator could go ahead as planning consent has been granted. So it remains VITAL that we continue to do our best to over-turn the planning committee’s decision. Since we only have a three month long window in which to challenge the decision, we are continuing our efforts to secure a judicial review.

No doubt more news will merge over coming days and we’ll keep you posted on developments. In the meantime, give yourselves a hearty pat on the back and have a well-deserved glass of something fortifying in celebration of yesterday’s news: there’s no doubt the vigorous campaigning against this crazy scheme has play a pivotal role. Thank you all for your efforts and support so far – we must continue to work together until we know the plan is finally dead and buried.

PS If you’d like more evidence that what we are saying is correct have a listen to Radio 4’s Costing the Earth. It’s half an hour of common sense.

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The fight goes on

We promised to let you know what the next steps are following last week’s appalling decision not to allow a call-in to public inquiry.

Our main focus now is to apply for permission for a Judicial Review (JR). You don’t just get a review; you have to ask for permission. That means we have to work with the best lawyers to examine whether we have a good case at JR.

As I have said before, if we pursue this through JR we will be up against top lawyers. If we are to win this, we need the best lawyers working for us. That costs money. We are now entering a crucial phase of the campaign.

If our lawyers advise us to go to JR then this will be our very best chance to stop this madness.

We know it’s wrong, they know it’s wrong but they persist with this unnecessary scheme.

Please support us by sending donations to: The Treasurer, NYWAG, High Farm Grange, Hopperton HG5 8NX. Cheques should be made payable to “NYWAG”. Or you can support us via PayPal by clicking on the links in the right hand column..

We will continue to fight this on/from all angles/fronts. Our support is as strong as always and we still have the support of our MPs and Harrogate Borough Council and many local parishes.

Did you know?

  • There are currently 31 incinerators in the UK with applications for another 120 but the country is expected to reach overcapacity by 2015.
  • Rotterdam has closed an incinerator because it could not get feedstock. There is overcapacity in Europe already.
  • The County is desperately short of cash, with cuts to public services – just take a look at the dire state of our roads – yet NYCC wants to squander millions of pounds on this scheme.

Thank you for your support. We will fight on and we will let you know when important things happen.

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Bad news but by no means the end of the road

Against our strong evidence and petitioning, the government minister, Nick Boles has decided not to call-in the incinerator application for a planning inquiry. Please take a look at this “breaking news” article from the Northern Echo.

There will be something in the Yorkshire Post and on Radio York tomorrow.

All your letters will have been considered. If you wrote to Beverley Jones, NPCU or Eric Pickles they will have been noted.

We hoped that this would not happen but it is certainly not the end of the road. It flies completely in the face of democracy. Our arguments about overcapacity and cost still apply. We still have several alternative strategies for stopping this. We need to confirm this over the next few days. We will let you know as soon as possible how we will continue this battle.

We will continue.

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Update and Christmas Tidings

We were hoping to have some news for you by now on how the request for a Planning Inquiry is progressing.

The only information we can give you is that:

  • They received over 600 letters requesting call-in.
  • The Secretary of State’s “target date” for a decision upon whether or not to call in the Allerton Park decision came and went.
  • The Secretary of State’s Office have been in contact with NYCC. They have sent something called an “Article 25 Holding Direction”. This, it seems, is a device that enables them to extend the twenty-one day deadline from the date of their acknowledgement of their receipt of the necessary papers from NYCC. In effect, it means that they still haven’t decided and that their decision will be (in their words) “weeks rather than months” after that.

This is similar to what has happened regarding the King’s Lynn incinerator. There, the Planning Committee voted to approve the application in late April this year, the Secretary of State issued a “holding direction” and ultimately let them know in the late summer that he was after all intending to call it in.

We will let you know as soon as we have any more information.

Thanks to all of you who have given such strong support to the campaign over the past (and previous) year. We remain convinced that the proposed incinerator is a monstrous and unnecessary intrusion and a complete waste of council money which could be much better spent on council services. We will continue to make representations to the Secretary of State and to other Government bodies and, with your help, we will fight to make sure that it does not get built.

Also, we are tremendously indebted to the team of fundraisers and helpers who have run the jumble sale and the Christmas Fayre. Thank you to everyone who supported these events and helped to raise nearly £2,000 towards the campaign fund.

We hope you have a lovely peaceful Christmas and let’s hope that the New Year brings us the news we have been hoping for.

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The next step


We need everyone to write and ask for call-in.

As expected NYCC’s planning committee approved the Allerton Park incinerator application today. So likely was it that, as judge, jury and executioner, this would be North Yorkshire County Council’s decision, we wrote most of this newsletter last night! The result was 9 – 2 in favour.

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come to County Hall today. There was a small chance that we might influence the decision. You have also sent out a strong message to Government that people are strongly against this proposal.

We always knew it would be an uphill struggle with NYCC, given that the council voted in favour of the scheme back in December 2010. That’s why we have consistently campaigned for the application to be called in by the Secretary of State and determined at a public inquiry by an independent planning inspector. We remain confident that the outcome of an independent planning inquiry will be that the application is rejected. And it is also important to note that NYCC still have to prove that the scheme offers “value for money” – something we intend to prove it most certainly does not.

So now the time has come to step up the pressure for call-in. Our local MPs, Harrogate Borough Council, local parish and town councils, NYWAG and many individual objectors have already urged that the application be called in. But we know that the Secretary of State takes into account the weight of opposition in decided whether to order call-in, and that means we are asking for one last big effort to secure an independent public inquiry.

We need as many people as possible to write to the Secretary of State asking for call-in.

There are many, many reasons why the application should be called in but any letter you write does not need to cover them all: the most important thing is that you send a letter or an email urging that ‘the application be called in to Public Inquiry’. Please include Public Inquiry in those words.

Amongst the reasons for call-in are:

  • This decision is of regional and national importance;
  • NYCC is not impartial: it has a vested interest in the outcome and calls itself the applicant’s ‘partner’;
  • The highly technical nature of the project needs a level of expertise greater than NYCC possesses – their Officer’s report states as much with respect to climate change impacts;
  • The proposal conflicts with national and EU policies on recycling and carbon emissions;
  • The scheme will involve what amounts to state-aid for a private company (the applicant) by subsidizing the cost of treating trade waste via excessively high costs for household waste. This is unacceptable;
  • Sustainability is a key test under planning law. AWRP is not a sustainable solution because it does not meet the needs of the present and compromises the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It will destroy valuable material rather than recycle it and expose council tax payers to major financial risks. It will emit substances harmful to man, wildlife and the environment;
  • It conflicts with local planning law. Harrogate Borough Council, which would be the planning authority for any industrial development other than a waste plant, is strongly against the application;
  • At least two of our MPs are publically opposed to the scheme – Nigel Adams and Andrew Jones – and have requested call-in;
  • There’s permanent harm to visual amenity and nationally important local heritage sites caused by siting this industrial building in open countryside. This harm cannot be mitigated.

Letters or emails in your own words from individuals count for more than ones from households, so we would ask that everyone in your home writes to the Secretary of State, no matter how briefly.

The address to write to is:

National Planning Casework Unit, 5 St Philips Place, 
Colmore Row, 
Birmingham 
B3 2PW

The email address to write to is:

bev.jones@communities.gsi.gov.uk, with a copy to npcu@communities.gsi.gov.uk


If you click this link it will setup the email for you to write.

Please ask everyone you know to take a few minutes to write a letter or email as soon as you possible, it really can make a difference.

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