Judicial review proceedings have been launched against Caerphilly County Borough Council over the local authority's decision to give planning permission to a waste recycling plant without undertaking an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
According to the claimant, Dr David Platt, the planning permission was unlawful because the council wrongly classified the plant as an Industrial Estate Development, meaning it was not subject to an EIA.
Permission was given in 2015 for the plant to be built at the Nine Mile Point Industrial Estate in Cwmfelinfach. According to a council report at the time, the company behind the plant (Hazrem Environment Ltd.) said 100,000 tonnes of waste would be processed annually at the site.
Dr Platt told Local Government Lawyer he believes "that the original planning permission (2015) and subsequent discharge of pre-commencement conditions (2020) should both have been subject to an EIA. Not doing an EIA when one is needed renders those decisions unlawful and we have asked that they be quashed".
He added: "CCBC screened the application for EIA in 2015 and classified it as an Industrial Estate Development, putting it into Schedule 2 of the EIA Regulations. They then screened it out."
Dr Platt said that, in fact, the correct classification was a waste disposal facility. He claimed that CCBC had conceded this was an error on their part and that this was no longer in dispute.
"Furthermore", Dr Platt said, "because the plant dries the waste to increase its calorific value for subsequent incineration off site, we say that this puts the plant squarely into schedule 1 of the Regulations, where an EIA is mandatory.
"CCBC continue to argue that this is not the correct reading of the Regulations, but my barrister and I beg to differ."
A Caerphilly spokesperson said the council wants to "reassure residents that this matter will be subject to full and transparent scrutiny as part of the forthcoming judicial review".
The spokesperson added: "Despite some of the claims being made in the community, it is important to note that at present the Hazrem application has lawful planning permission. It will be for the court to decide whether the council acted properly in granting the planning permission in 2015. We would urge residents to be patient and allow due process to be followed in this matter."
Dr Platt filed his claim via the Administrative Court in Cardiff on April 20. According to Dr Platt, Caerphilly gave their Acknowledgment of Service on Monday this week (May 10). Harriet Townsend of Cornerstone Barristers is representing him.