Beds, Herts & Bucks

Stewartby incinerator approved by Environment Agency

Artist's impression of the planned incinerator at Rookery Pit Image copyright Covanta Energy
Image caption Work on the the incinerator near Stewartby could start later this year

A controversial incinerator has been granted final approval.

The Environment Agency issued a permit for the plant at a disused clay pit, near Stewartby, Bedfordshire, after a second public consultation in November.

Covanta Energy's development at Rookery Pit for the energy-from-waste plant was given the go-ahead by Parliament in 2012.

But local residents have campaigned for nine years against the incinerator because of concerns over pollution.

The facility will be capable of converting about 585,000 tonnes of household and business waste into 65MWe of electricity per year.

Image caption Hugh Roberts said campaigners felt incinerator plans were a done deal

Campaigner Hugh Roberts, of the Marston Moretaine Action Group, said: "This huge incinerator will burn vast amounts of waste, producing pollution, smoke, fumes... lorries in a small community.

"We observed the rules and went through the consultation process.

"But right from the beginning all the roads seemed to end up to where we are now which is: 'You're going to get an incinerator whether you like it or not'."

US-based Covanta Energy has rejected any possible contamination fears, while the Environment Agency has granted the permit on condition the plant will be operated "in accordance with a written management system that identifies and minimises risks of pollution".

The firm was initially given permission by the planning commission in 2011 for its proposal for the former brick clay extraction pit.

But Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council objected to the plan.

A special parliamentary committee then heard their concerns because the proposal involved the compulsory purchase of council-owned land, before giving the go-ahead.

Work on the incinerator is expected to start later this year.

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