Campaigners claim victory after incinerator project is rejected

PROTESTERS who campaigned against a new waste incineration plant on the northern edge of Chesterfield are celebrating after the project was refused planning permission by members of Derbyshire County Council.

Although council planners had recommended that the application,

submitted by waste company Cyclamax, should be backed on economic and environmental grounds, it was thrown out at a committee meeting at County Hall, Matlock, on Tuesday, October 19.

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The meeting followed two years of campaigns, led by the Chesterfield Against Incineration protest group, who said that the technology proposed by Cyclamax was unproven and much of the waste being burned should instead be recycled.

The planning committee's decision was welcomed by the Labour MP for Chesterfield, Toby Perkins, who said: "I am delighted that all the hard work of all those who feared for the health and prosperity of their local community has finally paid off.

"In the end the evidence in support of rejecting the application was overwhelming. Cyclamax may well decide to appeal this decision, but this is a fantastic example of local champions fighting for what they believe in and succeeding.

"This decision is good for local residents, good for the economy and good for Chesterfield."

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Around 15,000 residents had objected to Cyclamax's plans for the Sheepbridge Resource Park, which would have been built on the former Cammac coal depot in Dunston Road.

Objectors claimed emissions from the plant could endanger health, local roads would be unable to cope with the anticipated 350 extra vehicle movements each day and the site was too close to people's homes – an estimated 30,000 residents and 19 schools lying within a two-mile radius.

Opposition had also come from local businesses, which threatened to leave the area if the incinerator was given the go-ahead, and formal objections were submitted by both Chesterfield Borough Council and North East Derbyshire District Council.

Cylamax, however, said that the Sheepbridge Resource Park, which would have dealt with 75,000 tonnes of rubbish each year, would be a "sustainable business that produces renewable energy, increases recycling and reduces landfill".

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Prior to Tuesday's meeting, planning officers backed the scheme, claiming there were insufficient grounds to recommend its refusal.

In a 91-page report advising councillors to support the application, the officers said: "The emissions that would be released from the gasification plant have been a significant issue, giving rise to major concerns about the impact of those emissions on human health.

"There is no conclusive evidence to support an objection on such grounds, particularly as the Environment Agency has now issued an Environmental Permit for the proposed development."

However, after a five-hour meeting, councillors went against the planners' recommendation and voted by eight to one against granting permission for the project.

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Karon Glynn, from the Chesterfield Against Incineration action group, said: "We started from a baseline of knowing nothing about planning and nothing, to our shame, about the waste industry.

"Two years on we believe we know a lot about both. We believe incineration is wholly wrong and we have been meeting at least twice every week throughout, while also spending numerous hours researching the subject.

"This has been completely exhausting but we had to do it. Now we are hoping to help other similar campaigns with our knowledge – but we also hope to get our lives back."