Westbury Town Forums

The Westbury Boards => Westbury News & Discussion => Topic started by: Michael on October 30, 2018, 07:47:53 am

Title: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: Michael on October 30, 2018, 07:47:53 am
The TTP (incinerator) is back on the agenda again, any thoughts?
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: baldy on October 30, 2018, 10:33:38 am
Whatever objectors say this time, the Strategic Planning Committee at County Hall will no doubt be given clear advice on the exact legal position before the meeting to ensure they properly understand that almost everything the objectors say is actually wrong or not relevant in law.

Last time, I received endless emails from all sorts of protestors, especially Friends of the Earth, telling me what to think and making all sorts of unfounded assertions about the legal position including vivid claims about the duty of Wiltshire Council to do all sorts of things except actually permit the proposed development under the planning process which the council has a duty to follow properly in accordance with law.

I am not on the Strategic Planning Committee (I am a reserve member for the Independent Group, but I will never seek to take up a seat even if our normal seat-holder will be away as we have other reserve members who are bursting to sit on the seat - I've done it many times in the past). 

I expect the committee will be given a briefing on the law before the meeting to make sure they properly understand the correct law including the FACT that the Environment Agency must be left to deal with the safety of the plant and that this is not a matter for the planning process when the EA has a clear role to play.
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: Sophia on November 16, 2018, 20:10:36 pm
Are you saying that the EA will decide?  Not taking into consideration the views of the HUNDREDS of objections ranging from extra vehicles on our congested roads to emissions from the Treatment Plant?
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: baldy on November 16, 2018, 21:07:20 pm
The Strategic Planning Committee will decide the new planning application based on planning law.

Where the EA must by law make the decision about public safety as regards environmental and health matters, the council is not allowed to let those matters affect the planning  decision.

This is a matter of law.

Hills are already appealing the decision to refuse the last planning application.

I expect the Strategic Planning Committee this time to focus much more on its correct legal responsibilities not least because there is now really no viable planning reason to refuse the application. The last application was refused on the basis of the building being too large. This is a really tenuous reason in all the circumstances. Now that the new application involves a smaller building, achieved by lowering the whole plant into the ground by digging a large hole out, the too large reason is just not going to wash and the council will be exposed to possible costs if it were to refuse again and then lose a planning appeal .....

The EA's job is to decide the environmental issues. This is where the protestors should be preparing to fight the proposal on proper technical grounds.

I am not sure what relevance you think applies to the number of protestors involved. More objections to planning applications does not mean a stronger case in law. What is relevant is the facts.  More people objecting just shows that the matter is contentious.

Planning application decisions are NOT a democratic process. So more people saying one thing or another is not relevant.  Obviously, some councillors will be influenced if their own electoral chances are going to be affected. This is why decisions sometimes occur which are overturned quickly on appeal. Planning Inspectors are most certainly going to look at the law, not how many people keep saying something that is factually wrong or that is ignoring the law, such as the way the EA is supposed to deal with environmental issues.

Last time, something quite odd happened to the makeup of the committee when one member arrived late and was substituted at the start of the meeting instead of waiting for the usual member to arrive. This affected the voting. I very much doubt if that member will be late again. He is a very experienced member who understand planning law more than most other councillors put together so I am expecting him to follow the proper legal advice given to the committee more closely than the committee did last time.

I am just giving my understanding of the issues here. Of course, I do not know exactly what will happen ..... but I would be surprised if the Conservative members who are the majority of the committee do not vote decisively to follow the officers advice this time.
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: baldy on February 20, 2019, 09:39:20 am
slightly off topic but nevertheless, you mention committee , PLEASE dont jump, but i am only asking a question in a polite manner.

  REF. the proposed the development on the Ham, it was mentioned in the WHN, that you did not attend the meeting and that you could have appointed another person to represent you. just wondered why , whoever wrote the letter was turning the screw


I have put your question here because this is the correct thread.

As you know, John Bowley lives in Warminster and often campaigns on issues in Westbury and often takes a swipe at me. You will remember the many misleading letters he wrote in WHN against the eastern Westbury bypass between 2007-10 and many of those included muddles, slurs and false claims about me because I campaigned to support the bypass proposal.

Contrary to his recent letter in WHN, I am not a member of the Wiltshire Council strategic planning committee. I am a substitute but on that occasion the member of my political group, the Independent Group, who has a seat on the committee did not ask any of his three substitutes to attend in his place.

As you may know, I have opposed the proposed gasification plant from the beginning. Indeed, during the first planning application, I was the only Wiltshire Councillor who objected. Permisssion was granted.

During the revised planning application last year, which was refused, I was asked by local residents in my division to attend the committee and speak, which I did. I spoke to support many of the objections especially the town council objection.

This time, no-one asked me to attend or speak. I was asked to call the matter to committee in my role as the local member, which I did.

When I read the officer report recommending permission, I realised that the council had no realistic option (explained above) but to permit the new application. There is simply no proper ground for refusal now.  I was also aware that the meeting would be attended by campaigners with plenty to say, regardless of whether what they said was true or nonsense or muddles or not.  In effect, there was no requirement for me to attend and indeed, no useful purpose anyway as permission was going to be granted regardless.

John  Bowley said that my division is Westbury Ham. It is not. It is Westbury West.

Westbury Ham was a town and district ward in Westbury that ceased to exist when the town/district council ward and county/unitary division boundaries changed in 2009.
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: Shizzy on February 20, 2019, 10:10:45 am
Bowley sticking his oar in again?  Maybe he'll get his Kenyan forends to write a few letters in opposition.
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: baldy on February 28, 2019, 10:49:46 am

John Bowley's letter mentioning me can be seen here at page 18:

WHN has now published a letter from me this week as follows (albeit with a slight change to my title details at the end):

Dear Sir

 John Bowley’s letter (14/2/19) about the recent decision by Wiltshire Council to grant planning permission for a revised design for the proposed waste to gas power station at Northacre Industrial Estate, Westbury, contained a series of inaccurate claims  that should be put straight.

 I am not a member of the Strategic Planning Committee, which has 11 members, not 22. I am one of the three available substitutes for the Independent Group member on that committee who, as usual, attended himself and did not need any substitute at that meeting.

 The subject site is in my electoral division which is not called Westbury Ham (a name that disappeared in 2009). As the local Wiltshire Councillor for Westbury West, I called the application in for a committee decision as requested by local residents.  Unlike the previous planning application last year, when I attended the committee meeting and spoke to object to the proposal, none of my local residents asked me to attend this time.  I was fully aware that a mass of objectors would be attending with plenty to say and, as excellent speakers, they certainly did not need me to repeat anything for them.

 Another issue for me is that I had concluded that the planning case officer report and recommendation for permission was fully and properly correct in law and there was no relevant ground available for refusal that could possibly stand up on appeal. There was no way that the committee was going to ignore the council’s legal obligation to properly follow the law and leave the Environment Agency to do its job and deal with health and safety issues arising from any emissions to air etc.   As no-one had asked me to attend and as plenty of others would be there to speak about what was certainly a lost cause, I did not need to be there.

 As a unitary councillor since 2009, I know for sure that the Wiltshire Council strategic planning committee (at least a large majority) was not going to ignore clear legal advice from its qualified lawyers regardless of who the committee chairman is.   John Bowley’s potshot at the committee chairman was wholly unjustified, especially the false claim that a councillor could hold a post for life. The reality is that the person in ultimate control who chooses which Conservative councillors sit on any committee is the Conservative Group Leader, not the current chair of the committee.

Russell Hawker
Wiltshire Councillor for Westbury West.

This can be seen online here at page 18:

Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: baldy on February 28, 2019, 11:05:01 am
It may help if I explain about the digital online edition of WHN.

The go to website for WHN is here:  http://www.whitehorsenews.co.uk/blog/ (http://www.whitehorsenews.co.uk/blog/)

On the front page is a section labelled Digital Edition.  Click on that block and you will be taken to the latest online digital edition.

It has a full archive of editions which are accessed from the archive icon near the top right of the screen (actually fourth from the right).

I tend to find that the new issue for WHN is available as an online edition on the Monday before the Tuesday when the front page of the website is updated with main articles and when distribution of the paper starts.

Sometimes on a Monday, the last digital edition still shows but the latest edition shows up in the archive as the most recent edition.
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: Damnit on February 28, 2019, 16:16:58 pm
Can I ask though Russell why the plant with a 52 meter chimney at South Marston Swindon could be rejected without the fear of being taken to court for breaching planning yet it is the fear of these legal proceedings that have allowed it here? I am in no way an expert so guidance would be greatly appreciated
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: baldy on February 28, 2019, 16:33:18 pm
Can I ask though Russell why the plant with a 52 meter chimney at South Marston Swindon could be rejected without the fear of being taken to court for breaching planning yet it is the fear of these legal proceedings that have allowed it here? I am in no way an expert so guidance would be greatly appreciated

Well, I have a basic understanding of planning practice and law as a GP chartered surveyor and I once worked for a development company as its Planning Manager. I can't claim to be up to date like an expert, but Wiltshire Councillors benefit from expert advice from qualified planning officers and lawyers.

I don't know what happened exactly in Swindon, but it is possible that the site there was not ideal or allocated for heavy industry or waste.

In the Westbury case, the site already has all the relevant planning policies that would allow the plant, not least an existing planning permission for a similar plant (which is impossible to ignore or overcome).

It is impossible to overstate the reality that planning permission for a similar plant already existed.

Last year, the only way to refuse the application was on a very tenuous basis of the building being too large, despite this being an industrial estate and existing large buildings.  The latest design was smaller as a result of digging a hole and dropping the plant down. Therefore, no ground for refusal existed.
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: Damnit on February 28, 2019, 16:36:23 pm
Many thanks 😊
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: Michael on February 28, 2019, 17:47:21 pm
I wouldn't disagree with most of what Baldy says, however the original objection on the size of the building was accepted and this does fall in the area of architectural suitability.

The new plan is actually relatively unchanged and the objection to the visual effect on the existing area remains valid, however the planning committee felt otherwise.

This is an area on which they could be challenged, although I accept may be rather tenuous. My feeling is that although it is in an industrial area it does impinge on the outlook and although there is another very ugly building next door it could be said that this is compounding one mistake with another.

Expect a legal challenge, and as always public opinion does make some elected officials nervous, but that may be clutching at straws.
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: baldy on February 28, 2019, 17:56:11 pm

The new design is smaller, though the stack needs to be the same height to take the fumes up to the legally-required height.
An opinion by locals that the proposed building is intrusive is not by itself a relevant factor unless it is unreasonably intrusive. The fact is that this is an allocated waste and industrial estate and large and tall buildings already exist nearby. The view of the proposed building from a nearby field is hardly relevant. The relevant view is from a far distance.  Campaigners often talk about legal challenges.  Some of the campaigners seem to believe their own baseless assertions about the law.    Talk of legal challenges is just hot air in this case.
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: Michael on February 28, 2019, 18:36:02 pm
You could be right Russell, but they are fund raising and they do have significant support from the community, both in Westbury, and adjacent parishes.
Time will tell, I have to admit sympathy with the objectors
Title: Re: Hills Thermal Treatmet Plant
Post by: baldy on March 01, 2019, 02:41:35 am
Well, if the campaigners are collecting money, it will be interesting to see what use the money is put to.

It may well fall to me to check that the campaigners are not fleecing locals of cash for no useful purpose ...