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Council set to defend opposition to waste plant expansion at Public Inquiry

25 January 2024

Cambridgeshire County Council will be robustly defending its decision to stop expansion of the Envar Composting site at Somersham Road, Woodhurst. The company has appealed the Council’s decision to refuse of planning permission to create a new incinerator at the waste treatment plant.

Members of the Planning Committee voted against permission for changes at the site back in April 2023, after hearing from local residents, councillors and business owners.

Concerns were raised about the effect on the landscape of the proposed 26m chimney and the perceived health and wellbeing impact of incineration on the wider community and Envar’s planning application was refused for these reasons.

Envar Composting Ltd seeks to transform the site with the creation of a dry anaerobic digester, a healthcare energy from waste facility, biomass storage building, pellet fertilizer facility and associated infrastructure.

The appeal will be examined by the Planning Inspectorate, who are the authority that deal with planning appeals nationally.

To robustly defend the Planning Committee’s decision to refuse the application, the County Council has instructed lawyers, including a King’s Counsel. Expert planning and landscape witnesses have also joined the team, ahead of the public inquiry which is scheduled from the 20 February 2024. The 8 day inquiry will be run by a Planning Inspector and will be held at the Red Kite Room at New Shire Hall, Alconbury.

All those who commented on Envar’s original planning application will be notified of the details of the inquiry by letter in advance of the hearing.

Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Planning Committee, Councillor Henry Batchelor commented: “The Planning Committee voted by a majority to oppose this development at the former Mushroom Farm. The Council will be robustly defending its decision at the planning inquiry. In planning you need to strike a balance and in this case the committee believed the adverse impacts outweighed the benefits.

“The committee had particular concerns about the visual impact of the tall chimney on the surrounding fen landscape and our planners are working to understand the full effects on neighbouring farms and other businesses.”

The County Council’s ‘Statement of Case’, which outlines the Council’s approach to defending the appeal was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate last month. More details will be released in line with the Planning Inspectorate’s timetable, ahead of the February inquiry.

Documents detailing Envar Composting Ltd’s appeal and the Council’s defence can be found on our website at: using the reference CCC/21/088/FUL and searching for the prefix APPL.