Our West Lancashire have greeted the news that the Government has declined to intervene in the decision on whether a medical waste incinerator goes ahead with great disappointment. The incinerator, to be located in Simonswood, would use an untested pyrolysis treatment and see fallout under normal conditions spread at least 10km, reaching Ormskirk, Burscough and Skelmersdale.
The decision will now be taken by Lancashire County Council, whose Conservative and Labour councillors have already let residents down over the matter at the Development Control Committee. However, OWL have said that the fight is far from over.
Ian Rigby, the OWL councillor for Bickerstaffe which includes Simonswood these past 4 years has been working closely with the parish council. He said, “This week the disappointing news was confirmed that the Secretary of State will NOT call in the application to build a medical waste incinerator on the Simonswood Industrial Estate. In a letter from the Casework Unit at DLUHC sent to Jonathan Haine at Lancashire County Council, it states that “the Secretary of State has considered his policy on calling in planning applications… and has decided not to call in this application. He is content that it should be determined by the local planning authority.” It goes on to say that in making this decision that the Secretary of State “has not considered the matter of whether this application is EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017” and that ensuring compliance with these Regulations remains the responsibility of with the relevant Authority. The Article 31 Direction not to issue the formal approval notice has therefore been withdrawn, putting the decision back in the hands of Lancashire County Council.
This decision represents a blatant disregard of the evidence and written objections submitted to the Department, and having issued the original stop notice on the release of the approval letter under Article 31, it is appears to signal a U turn in the Department’s interest to now simply push the decision back to the local level. Maybe an example of a Conservative government not wanting to go against the ruling Conservative Council in Preston.
So what next? It is highly unlikely that the Development Committee will review their decision with a mind to now reject the proposal after passing it with a minimal majority, and neither should it be hoped that the full Council will seek to go against its own Development Committee. If we are to continue to push for greater environmental protection for the communities that live in the proximity of this potentially polluting and life damaging incinerator, for which there is no market necessity, then the promises of the Borough Council and our neighbours in Knowsley Council to press for a Judicial Review, must be actioned and supported by us all. This will incur legal fees for all but the benefits of protecting everyone’s health surely outweighs the costs and the profiteering for commercial gain at the expense of the public wellbeing.
There has also been a lack of input from the new MP for West Lancashire, Ashley Dalton, who despite her attendance at a recent meeting with the Knowsley MP, Council Officers and the Parish Council and making commitments to submit objections to the Secretary of State, remains silent on the matter.”