Incinerator letter angers St Dennis villagers

Image caption Mr Robertson said the council faced landfill taxes of up to £15m a year

Cornwall Council's leader has written to ministers urging they approve plans for a waste incinerator in a village, despite previously opposing it.

Alec Robertson said in his letter the area would lose out financially if the Sita UK application for the St Dennis incinerator was refused.

The now Conservative-run council had previously refused planning permission, prompting a public inquiry.

Incinerator opponents have accused him of betraying people in St Dennis.

Sita had previously entered into an agreement with the then Liberal Democrat-run Cornwall County Council to look into using an incinerator to burn the county's waste.

However, the authority did not agree with the choice of St Dennis and in March 2009 refused planning permission to build the plant there, when Mr Robertson voted against it.

A new unitary authority, Cornwall Council, took over the county council's work in April 2009.

The waste management company appealed against the county council decision in the meantime.

The project was referred to a public inquiry, which was held earlier this year. It referred the final decision on planning permission to the Secretary of State.

'Absolutely disastrous'

The government is due to announce its decision within the next few weeks.

Mr Robertson has now urged Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to uphold an appeal against the council's original decision.

Mr Robertson said it would cost the authority £50m to terminate the contract between the county council and Sita, and said it still faced landfill taxes of up to £15m a year.

He said turning down this application would eventually cost the council more than £320m.

Mr Robertson said: "With any planning decision it is a balance between the detrimental effect and the benefits. The detrimental effects on the area around the development are well accepted.

"What I have to take into account as the leader of Cornwall Council is the county-wide effect. The countywide effect of this appeal failing is absolutely disastrous."

However, people living in and near St Dennis claim the plant is too big, poorly located and could pose health risks.

Councillor Dick Cole, who has been campaigning against the incinerator, said he was "absolutely astonished" the letter had been sent.

Mr Cole, leader of the Cornish devolutionist party Mebyon Kernow, said: "The application for an incinerator was turned down democratically by Cornwall County Council.

"The new council has spent an absolute fortune on defending that decision. Now we have the leader of the council going against that and trying to intervene to get the Secretary of State to allow it. I am absolutely flabbergasted to be honest."

The local parish council chairman Frederick Greenslade said Mr Robertson's letter was "deplorable".

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites