Update 28th March 2023
Statement from Westbury Town Council
Following a lengthy and costly fight to stop an incinerator being built in Westbury, the Town Council met on Monday 27th March 2023 to decide if there were grounds for a High Court challenge to the Planning Inspector’s decision to grant permission for the incinerator.
Ahead of the full council meeting, a small group of councillors from the Incinerator Task & Finish Group met with the town council’s legal team – Leigh Day (Solicitors), Alex Goodman KC and barrister Joel Semakoula. The legal team confirmed that any legal challenge must identify legal errors in the decision making and there would not be a re-examination of evidence. The town council also took advice on options suggested from partners such as UKWIN and those received from the public since the Planning Inspector’s decision was announced.
The legal team felt there were possible grounds for challenge, but none were robust, and any chance of a successful challenge were considered at 30-40%. If a legal challenge were to go ahead and in the unlikely event that it was successful, the probable outcome was that planning permission would be quashed and the Planning Inquiry rerun. The cost to Westbury Town Council would be in the region of £66,000, this is on the assumption that the town council would qualify for reduced and capped costs, this is not a certainty. The cost to rerun a Planning Inquiry would also fall to the town council and is estimated to be £30,000 to £40,000. To date the town council has spent over £49,500 in legal fees fighting the Incinerator.
Wiltshire Council has confirmed that their legal team has advised there are no viable grounds for a challenge.
Twenty-three members of the public attended the town council meeting, all with strong and passionate views. The town council also heard from Andrew Murrison who is continuing to petition the Secretary of State for DEFA and call for a tax on incineration on the basis that this is not a green waste solution.
After much debate, the town council resolved not to proceed with a High Court challenge to the inspector’s decision but to put their effort and financial resources into continuing to oppose and protest against the incinerator, working hard to find reasons for NREL to reconsider the economic viability of the build. Westbury Town Council will continue to apply rigorous scrutiny and hold the developers to account.
Westbury Town Council
Update 20th March 2023
Westbury Town Council Statement
Incinerator Appeal Decision Update
Westbury Town Council continues to tirelessly battle against the dreadful pollution and increased traffic levels that Northacre Renewable Energy’s proposed incinerator will bring to our town, holding all parties concerned to account for the decision that has been imposed on us.
We are in frequent, regular contact with our appointed solicitors, Leigh Day regarding the potential for raising a legitimate legal challenge and the likelihood of winning such a challenge at appeal. Leigh Day is one of the leading law firms specialising in claimant environmental work in the UK, and we will continue to work closely with them as we approach the final deadline for lodging an appeal, Tuesday 4th April.
There is to be an Extraordinary Meeting of Westbury Town Council held on Monday 27th March at which the Incinerator Task & Finish Group will present a report on the summary of all the advice received from Leigh Day and other relevant parties consulted. The Town Council will then be able to make an informed decision on whether or not there are watertight reasons to appeal the Planning Inspector’s conclusions in favour of Northacre Renewable Energy.
20th March 2023
Update 21st February 2023
Westbury Town Council Statement
Incinerator Appeal Decision
The decision by the planning inspector to allow the appeal and therefore the building of a monstrous incinerator close to hundreds of homes, is very disappointing and a dark day not only for Westbury but the whole of West Wiltshire.
Westbury Town Council has fought hard and supported local residents throughout this long-drawn-out process and although permission has been granted, we will continue to hold all parties to account in the coming months and years.
It is said by some that this was a battle difficult to win but it is part of the human spirit that we fight against injustice and perceived wrongs and that was demonstrated in all those who have taken part in the fight against what will become a blight on our local landscape.
Lack of clear government policy and commitment to environmental targets allowed this application to progress through a process where dealing with the problem of waste is put before human health. This decision further demonstrates the damage that can be done by government’s failure to acknowledge that incineration is not the long-term answer to waste disposal.
Wiltshire Council’s planning committee eventually ruled against the building of this incinerator and Westbury Town Council will continue to work with and seek support from all agencies to improve the lives of residents impacted most by the increased traffic and pollution Northacre Renewable Energy will bring to our town.
21st February 2023
21st February 2023
You can read the Appeal Decision on the Appeals Casework Portal here.
Updated 8th December 2022
The Inquiry ended on 8th December 2022. The Planning Inspector indicated that the decision will probably come through in March or April 2023.
Wednesday 7th December 2022 – drawings by local artist, Alex Prowse:
Updated 6th December 2022
Week 2 – (5th December to 8th December) – Click here to join the meeting – this meeting is now closed.
Updated 25th November 2022
Planning Inquiry – Week 1 – 22nd November-25th November
Report from Westbury Town Council:
Firstly, thank you to everyone who came along on Tuesday morning to show their opposition to the incinerator. Over 100 people attended a peaceful protest with their banners, placards and badges. It was a great turnout.
Day 1 started with an introduction by the Inspector, Stephen Normington. This was followed by the barristers for Wiltshire Council and for NREL making their opening statements. After the lunch break Westbury Town Council’s own barrister, Joel Semakula, spoke to outline the town council’s objections and then our Expert Witness, Dr Ben Marner gave his evidence Air quality.
The remainder of the afternoon session was given over to interested parties to speak. This included contributions from Councillor Michael Sutton speaking on local democracy, Councillor Mark Bailey speaking on the visual impact of the incinerator, Councillor Jane Russ talking about transport issues and the mayor, Councillor Sheila Kimmins, who made a heartfelt plea on behalf of the town. If you would like to read the statements, they are available below.
Day 2 was given to Tony Norton to present evidence for Wiltshire Council on climate change and air quality in opposition to the plans and he was then cross examined by the NREL barrister.
Day 3 was the turn of Stephen Othen to speak on behalf of NREL, again on climate change and air quality issues. He was then cross examined by the Wiltshire Council barrister. In the afternoon of day three the public were given the opportunity to put their questions to Mr Othen and the session concluded with a recap of Stephen Othen’s evidence.
The Inquiry now breaks for one week and resumes on December 5th with the site visit. This will be when the inspector visits the proposed incinerator site and also locations around the town to look at the impact of the incinerator on the area. He will be accompanied by two town councillors and representatives of NREL and Wiltshire Council.
When the Inquiry recommences on December 6th, back in the Laverton, the public are free to attend and observe. You can just turn up for either a morning session or afternoon session, or stay all day. If you would rather watch online on Teams, the meeting link will be available on Westbury Town Council website nearer the time –www.westburytowncouncil.gov.uk/dept/incinerator
Statements from Westbury Town Council:
Cllr Sheila Kimmins, Mayor
Cllr Mike Sutton
Cllr Mark Bailey
Cllr Jane Russ
Day 1, Tuesday 22nd November 2022 – a peaceful protest:
Day 1, Tuesday 22nd November 2022 – drawings by local artist, Alex Prowse:
Updated 22nd November 2022
Week 1 – (22nd November to 25th November) – Click here to join and listen to the meeting – this meeting is now closed.
Updated 21st November 2022
Inquiry Timetable – pdf version
Updated 31st October 2022
Westbury Town Council’s latest update
Here is a brief summary of where Westbury Town Council are at this stage:
- Engaged Joel Semakula from Landmark Chambers to make an opening statement on behalf of the town council. Joel will examine parties’ proofs of evidence and identify key issues to make the overall case for why planning permission should be refused
- Commissioned an Air Quality Report (see below) from Ben Marner of Air Quality Consultants, who are advisors to DERFA. Ben identified a number of areas where he believes correct procedures have not been followed and where he disputes the evidence of NREL. He has also been engaged to speak at the Inquiry to present and defend his evidence. The town council believe he will be presenting a strong case for refusal
- The incinerator will affect a large area, so the site visit will also include a tour of the area covering Heywood, North Bradley, Brokerswood, Dilton Marsh, Westbury town and the White Horse. Three town councillors travelled the route last week and agreed it with Wiltshire Council. When the Inspector takes this tour, he will be accompanied by Westbury town councillors who can point out concerns directly
- The town council may also have a councillor speak on landscape and visual impact at the Inquiry
- In accordance with democracy, our legal advice is that this is best presented by a local councillor with local knowledge. Therefore, Councillor Sutton, who has spoken at the previous planning meetings, will speak on behalf of the town council, emphasising the scale of local opposition, the way that local planning concerns have been dismissed and the emphasis placed on local decision making by the Secretary of State and planning Inquiry guidelines
Westbury Town Council commissioned Air Quality Consultants to prepare an air quality report:
Read the Air Quality Review: Northacre Energy from Waste Facility Air Quality Assessment here
Updated 17th October 2022
Westbury Town Council’s action plan
Westbury Town Council has already written to the Inspector with our initial objections, raising all the issues discussed in recent months and including the points we raised in our mail out in August.
The Town Council have engaged a legal team experienced in environmental and planning issues to advise on our best approach and lead our case. The information they gave us was used to help the councillors agree what issues had already been covered and where gaps may exist. It is important for the town council to carefully consider its case, as the Planning Inspector has made clear that he is aware of existing objections and would like to hear only new or additional evidence at the inquiry.
As a result, the town council will now concentrate its resources on air quality, landscape & viewpoints, and democracy.
Air Quality The town council has commissioned a report from an expert in air quality management and assessment, who will attend the planning inquiry to present his evidence and answer questions.
Landscape Town Council will liaise with NREL to determine the schedule for site visits and attend the site visits to put our views forward. The Planning Inspector has given the town council an opportunity to comment on the viewpoints provided in the Landscape and Visual appraisal.
Democracy The Town Council feel this is one of the most important elements in our case. We know that the public oppose the incinerator, over 2000 people have previously written to the Secretary of State and many wrote to the Planning Inspector in August. All local Town and Parish Councils oppose the plan, along with Wiltshire Council. A Councillor has been nominated to put forward these arguments on behalf of the local residents. We will work with local groups and individuals who wish to present evidence and make their views heard.
Finally, the town council will instruct a barrister to make an overall statement, identifying key issues, previous arguments against the Incinerator and explaining why the planning permission should be refused.
Updated 14th October 2022
Public involvement, how to take part.
Westbury Town Council encourage as many people as possible to attend the Inquiry and show their opposition to the Incinerator. We are planning a protest for the first day of the Inquiry on November 22nd, so please keep the date free! We need to make a big impact on the Inspector on this first day.
Anyone can attend the Inquiry and can speak as an “Interested Party” either as an individual or as a representative of a group. If you wish to attend as an interested party you are encouraged to register in advance, but the Inspector will have discretion to allow people who have not registered to speak also. If you want to register please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Between now and the start of the Inquiry Westbury Town Council will be working with individuals and groups to coordinate attendance and opposition so please check this webpage for the latest updates.
If you wish to attend the Inquiry in person, you must make it known to Wiltshire Council. The number of available places at the venue may be limited so to ensure you are able to attend please email email@example.com as soon as possible.
To take part virtually, participants will need to have access to Microsoft Teams (via an app or web browser). This link gives further information on how to use this. https://support.office.com/en-us/teams
Anyone wishing to attend the Inquiry virtually must make it known to Wiltshire Council as soon as possible prior to the event, by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 12th October 2022
Incinerator Planning Inquiry Update
The Planning Inspector has now issued the details of the way the Inquiry will operate.
For full details please view the Case Management Conference (CMC) Summary Note.
- The Inquiry will commence on 22nd of November and will take place at The Laverton. It is planned to run in 2 blocks
- 22-24th November
- After a 1-week break will recommence on December 5th and end on December 8th.
- The public are invited to attend all sessions and will have an opportunity to speak on the afternoon of November 22nd and again on December 7th. The inquiry will also be live streamed so that people who cannot attend in person can follow proceedings.
- On the 5th of December, there will be a site visit to all the viewpoints around the town– the town council will be integral in this.
Westbury Town Council will be represented at the Inquiry, and we encourage the public and organisations to turn up and show their opposition to the incinerator and support for those speaking against it. Public opinion is important and can make a difference.
Updated 24th August 2022
9th August 2022 – The leaflet (4 pages) below was delivered to all residents and sets out the concerns raised by Westbury Town Council about the Westbury Incinerator. The Incinerator application is now at a critical stage. A planning inquiry will be held in November and the government appointed Planning Inspector asked for anyone who had a view to contact him before midnight on Tuesday 23rd of August 2022.
Example letters that residents were invited use, to send to the planning inspector – Word version / PDF version
5th August 2022 Northacre Renewable Energy, Westbury – Planning Appeal Inquiry.
In July 2022 Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd lodged an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. The grounds for the appeal were the ”non-determination of the planning application”, meaning that Wiltshire Council had not come to a decision quickly enough on the application to build an incinerator in Westbury.
The application for appeal by Northacre Renewable Energy was accepted by the Planning Inspectorate, and the hearing will take place in November 2022.
Both Wiltshire Council and Arla Foods will take an active part in the planning inquiry.
An extraordinary Town Council meeting was called for the 2nd of August to discuss whether the Town Council should be a Rule 6 party. Being a Rule 6 party means the Town Council would be able call their own witnesses to give oral evidence on their behalf. This would also mean appointing an advocate to act on the Council’s behalf.
At the Extraordinary Town Council meeting detailed discussions took place on the pros and cons of being a Rule 6 party, the main concern being that should the application to build the incinerator in Westbury fail, the Town Council could be requested by the Planning Inspector to pay costs, which could cost the Town Council a great deal of money, impacting on its ability to deliver its services and assets.
The final vote was 4 against being a Rule 6 party, and 2 for. Therefore, the Town Council will be present at the planning inquiry as an Interested Party.
The Town Council is working with the Legal Team to ensure that we can make representations as an Interested Party, together with seeking advice from an Advocate who specialises in Planning Appeals.
There is however timeline that we must ALL meet.
- Tuesday 23rd August 2022 Written representations must be with the Planning Inspectorate.
I am asking that you, as you have all done in the past, write to the Planning Inspectorate giving your reasons why this build should not be approved.
The reference number is RE: APP/Y3940/W/22/3302008
The Planning Inspectorate have introduced an online appeals service which you can use to comment on this appeal. You can find the service through the Appeals area of the Planning Portal – see https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk. Alternatively, you can send your comments to ALISON.DYSON@planninginspectorate.gov.uk or Planning Inspectorate, Room 3c, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol BS1 6PN, quoting the Inspectorate reference. Comments should be received by Tuesday 23 August 2022.
Every household in the town will be also receiving a letter from me again asking you write and support Westbury Says No to the Incinerator.
Sheila Kimmins – Chair of the Council
27th July 2022 from Westbury Town Council
A very positive outcome, the fight against the incinerator continues!
25th July 2022
Update from Westbury Town Council
22nd July 2022
Residents who experience odours can report these as follows:
- Hills Waste Solutions: Using this link www.northacrerrc.co.uk/contact-us or by telephone on 01793 781207
- Environment Agency: Telephone 0800 80 70 60 (24 hours)
23rd June 2022
Comment from Westbury Town Council Highways, Planning and Development Committee (20.06.2022) to the Environment Agency Briefing 16 decision:
“The Town Council are deeply disappointed by the decision the Environment Agency has reached in granting a licence for the Westbury Incinerator. We feel the decision was taken without full and appropriate public consultation and does not fully take into account the serious detrimental impact it will have on the town and local community. The town council are currently taking legal advice to see if there are grounds for challenging this decision.”
15th June 2022
From the Environment Agency – Briefing 16: Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd, can be read here.
4th May 2022
From the Environment Agency – Briefing 15: Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd, can be read here.
20th April 2022 – Deferral!
A very positive result for the town from the Strategic Planning Meeting held on 20th April 2022. Thanks to all who spoke against the incinerator including Dr Andrew Murrison and Councillors Sutton, King and Dean. Westbury Town Council will continue to fight against the incinerator on behalf of all Westbury residents.
Thanks also to the WGAG / No Westbury Incinerator Group, for all their hard work and effort in fighting the incinerator in Westbury. You can follow the work of the group on Facebook.
17th April 2022
Westbury Town Council letter to Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP.
14th April 2022
Westbury Town Council held an Extraordinary meeting today, Thursday 14th April and the agreed actions can be viewed here.
12th April 2022
Response from Westbury Town Council to the Environment Agency Consultation, can be read here.
11th April 2022
Wiltshire Council Strategic Planning Committee – Wednesday 20th April 2022 – Notification Letter
1st April 2022
Westbury Town Council has received this Letter from the Secretary of State
In response, Westbury Town Council issues this Statement
10th March 2022
From the Environment Agency – Briefing 14: Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd, regarding the permit for an energy from waste incinerator in Westbury can be read here.
The consultation http://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/psc/ba13-4we-northacre-renewable-energy-limited-1 was open for comments until 11:59pm on Friday 22nd April 2022.
Updated 26th February 2021
Environmental Agency – Briefing Notes: Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd: Briefing 6 / Briefing 7 / Briefing 8 / Briefing 9 / Briefing 10
Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd letter can be read here / Information about how to view paper copies of the application and how to book at time slot can be read here
Update from the Environment Agency – the consultation has been extended until 21st February 2021. A statement from Westbury Town Council can be read here
Updated 18th February 2021
Westbury Town Council – response to planning application 20/06775/WCM (21.09.2020) can be read here
Westbury Town Council – response to Environment Agency permit application (17.02.2021) can be read here
Updated 2nd November 2020
Westbury Town Council was contacted by Wiltshire Council on Monday 2nd November 2020, to confirm that all representations relating to planning application 20/06775/WCM – Amended energy from waste facility at the Northacre Energy Waste Facility have now been uploaded to the planning portal.
Updated June 2020
You can read the letter from Dr Andrew Murrison, in response to Northacre Renewable Energies plans for the site in Westbury here.
“Westbury Still Says No” Banners
Westbury Town Council has a limited number of small (1500×500 mm) “Westbury Still Says No” banners that are available for residents to display on their properties.