Councillors vote in favour of altering enforcement notice on incinerator in Barry

COUNCILLORS have voted in support of altering an enforcement notice served on a Barry incinerator under threat of closure.

Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee met on Thursday April 27 to discuss plans to vary the enforcement notice served on the Woodham Road incinerator in 2021 after a number of discrepancies were found with its approved plans.

Biomass UK No.2 Ltd. appealed against the enforcement notice to Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) in October 2021, arguing that the measures in the notice, including the removal of the incinerator, were excessive.

Ahead of an inquiry over the matter, PEDW recently wrote to the council about the way its enforcement notice was written, adding that it “should consider whether the allegation is a sufficiently precise description” and how it might be corrected.

However, campaigners and some councillors are concerned that this could see the council backtracking on its plans to enforce the closure of the plant and the eventual re-commencement of operations there.

A member of Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee, Cllr Nic Hodges, said: “I respect that they have a right of appeal against a planning permission, or in this case an enforcement notice, but it is only right and proper that we defend our position and defend it robustly.”

Biomass UK submitted three planning applications in January 2023 with the aim of regularising the development that they currently have in place.

The company has always argued that the enforcement notice served on the Woodham Road plant is inaccurate and disproportionate.

A Vale of Glamorgan Council planning report states that the proposed variation of the enforcement notice is intended to “more accurately reflect the breach of planning control”.

It will also include an additional/alternative option to secure a remedy to the breach of planning control, according to the planning report.

Cllr Hodges added: “I really need to be convinced, and I am still waiting for a proper argument, of why we need to adjust the enforcement action that we have in front of us.

“I think it is clear, I think it is definite, and I think I remain to be convinced that it is not dependable at an appeal without more information.”

The committee eventually voted in favour of re-adjusting the notice. However, this does not mean that the council will itself modify it.

Approval of the proposals put before the committee means that the council will now respond to PEDW to give comment, as requested by PEDW, to note that the council feels it is appropriate to amend the enforcement notice.

In response to Cllr Hodges’ comments, council officer Ian Robinson said: “I fully appreciate how building something wrongly can diminish peoples’ confidence in the operation of a plant and quite often with planning applications we have that kind of thing put to us.”

He went on to add: “Unfortunately we can’t base our decisions… on how trustworthy we think the developer is. We have to assess the application on the proposal on the ground, not who is proposing it.”

The PEDW inquiry was set to take place in May this year. However, this has now been postponed.

The Welsh Government said that a new date for the Inquiry will be set once the PEDW inspector has established the appropriate next steps.

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