From Keighley News, February 8th, 2018
Written by Alistair Shand
CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to fight on despite a ruling in favour of Bradford Council over a hugely controversial waste-to-energy incinerator scheme. Battlers against the project claimed the council's decision to approve the planning application had been flawed.And the issue went before a two-day judicial review in Leeds last month.But today, a Judge gave the verdict in favour of the council.
Endless Energy Limited is seeking to build the plant on the former gas works site alongside the Aire Valley trunk road at Marley, in Keighley.
Simon Shimbles, steering committee chairman for the Aire Valley Against Incineration (AVAI) campaign group, said he was disappointed "but not entirely surprised" at the ruling.
However, he vowed the campaign would continue.
The group committee is meeting tonight to discuss the decision and its next move.
"Naturally we are extremely disappointed but not entirely surprised – the judicial review was on fairly narrow points of law," said Mr Shimbles.
"We did feel we had a good case but were ready for this eventuality.
"We'll now speak to our legal people and decide the way forward but this is certainly not the end of the campaign.
"It is the end of this phase, and the start of the next. We're not giving up by a long chalk.
"Once we decide on whether to appeal, we will challenge any application for an environmental permit to operate the incinerator, and all the work we have done to date gives us great confidence that we are well placed to do just that.
"We would like to thank the thousands of local residents that have shown their support to our campaign throughout the last year.
"We're also extremely encouraged by the change in public opinion we're seeing over air pollutants and plastics recycling and the move into a more favourable political climate."
The campaigners are backed by Keighley MP John Grogan.
"The news of the ruling is obviously disappointing but this was always going to be a game of two halves," he said.
"The next stage is the application for a permit to the Environment Agency and I am cautiously optimistic about the prospects of putting a block on the incinerator then."
The proposed £150 million incinerator was approved by the council a year ago.
The scheme has faced fierce opposition amid claims it would generate harmful pollutants and ruin the appearance of that part of the Aire Valley.
In pressing for the judicial review hearing, campaigners raised money to pay for expert legal opinion, arguing that Bradford Council's decision-making process had not given due weight to local heritage and environmental issues.
Endless Energy has said the land where it intends to build its plant is a former industrial site, which has a previous planning consent for a similar use that was not challenged.
No one at the company was available for comment today.
A spokesman for Bradford Council said: "The council took this planning decision in good faith with regard to all the evidence presented to officers and councillors.
"Councillors have to operate within a legal framework, they cannot use personal views or beliefs to make a decision.
"The court’s decision has vindicated our independent decision process. Whatever the merits of a planning application, Bradford Council has to act according to strict planning regulations and the court agreed this has happened."