Ardley waste incinerator recommended by inspector

Image caption,
Viridor appealed against a decision by councillors to refuse the incinerator

Plans to build a waste incinerator in north Oxfordshire have moved a step closer after a planning inspector recommended the scheme should go ahead.

Councillors had refused a 25-year deal for waste firm Viridor to run a plant at Ardley, but the company appealed in January, prompting a public inquiry.

As a result, a planning inspector said the government should approve it.

He said there was a "pressing need" for such a facility and there would be no significant harm to health.

A final decision is expected in February.

Waste 'imported'

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles will now go back to all the main parties - including Cherwell District Council, Oxfordshire County Council and campaigners against the site - to discuss certain conditions recommended by the planning inspector.

Opponents of the scheme include Banbury MP Tony Baldry and campaign group Ardley Against the Incinerator.

Mr Baldry has raised fears that the plant would need to burn more residual waste than Oxfordshire produced, meaning rubbish would be "imported" from elsewhere.

Campaigners have said the fight is far from over with protesters looking into legal challenges.

Viridor believes it can turn 300,000 tonnes of waste into electricity every year.

Second application

Viridor's planning manager Ian John said: "We welcome this decision which is a step forward in the process relating to permission for our original application.

"We will respond to the secretary of state over the matters that he is seeking further representation, and look forward to receiving confirmation of planning permission in February."

Meanwhile a second planning application by Viridor for an incinerator at the site, which was approved by councillors in October, was not "called in" by the planning inspector, allowing the council to issue the planning permission for the alternative scheme.

Viridor will press ahead with the secondary scheme should its original plans fail.

Mr John added: "It is now possible that the company will be in an unusual position of having two planning permissions for the Ardley site.

"We will not be able to comment any further on our intentions until the outcome of the secretary of state's decision in February is known."

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