Fenland Council loses fight to stop incinerator survey

Fenland District Council passed a motion preventing the sale of its land

FLASHBACK to last autumn when Fenland Council agreed a six-month hold on the sale of council owned land around the proposed Wisbech incinerator site. However the council’s refusal to allow developers access to land for site survey work has been branded “unreasonable” and overturned by the Planning Inspectorate - Credit: Archant

Resistance to a mega incinerator in Wisbech suffered a blow after developers won permission to survey land owned by Fenland District Council.

The council was told by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate that it was “unreasonable” for them to refuse Medworth CHP Ltd access to their land.  

Maps showing land owned by Fenland Council and where site surveys by incinerator developers can now be undertaken

Maps showing land owned by Fenland Council and where site surveys by incinerator developers can now be undertaken - Credit: FDC

The inspectorate concluded that “Fenland District Council refused to engage in voluntary negotiations with the applicant due to their public opposition to the Medworth CHP scheme.

“The inspectorate therefore considers that contact had been made between the applicant and the landowner but that the landowner had not attempted to engage in voluntary access negotiations.”

Maps showing land owned by Fenland Council and where site surveys by incinerator developers can now be undertaken

Maps showing land owned by Fenland Council and where site surveys by incinerator developers can now be undertaken - Credit: FDC

The inspectorate concluded that Medworth CHP “has demonstrated reasonable efforts to obtain permission to enter the land by agreement with the landowner over a period of months”.


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There had been “repeated efforts to engage in a voluntary access agreement and that the evidence presented constitutes an unreasonable refusal.

Maps showing land owned by Fenland Council and where site surveys by incinerator developers can now be undertaken

Maps showing land owned by Fenland Council and where site surveys by incinerator developers can now be undertaken - Credit: FDC

“The authorisation request is therefore granted in respect of non-intrusive surveys.”

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Fenland Council had also asked for £1,000 to allow access but the inspectorate said planning laws did not allow it and “this condition has not been granted”.

Maps showing land owned by Fenland Council and where site surveys by incinerator developers can now be undertaken

Maps showing land owned by Fenland Council and where site surveys by incinerator developers can now be undertaken - Credit: FDC

In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate, Fenland Council said it had “not wanted to agree voluntarily” with the applicant.

Medworth CHP needs to survey the land as part of preparatory studies ahead of a full application.

Land owners have been receiving letters requesting access and a handful tried to block them.

James Wiffen of  Walsoken also lost his appeal against access to land he owns.

Medworth CHP say they want entry to all the land they’ve specified to “carry out non-intrusive ecological and walkover surveys to determine what infrastructure may be placed in this location”.

Part of the letter sent by Fenland Council to try and stop surveys of their land

Part of the letter sent by Fenland Council to try and stop surveys of their land ahead of an application for a mega incinerator for Wisbech - Credit: FDC

The project is described as an energy from waste, combined heat and power facility.

It would need a grid connection, access improvements and temporary construction compounds.

The proposed CHP connection would run up the disused railway line as far as the Nestle factory.

The proposed grid connection will be a 132kV connection, running east of Wisbech and continuing north to Walpole substation.

Medworth CHP believes a plant in Wisbech could handle 523,500 tonnes of non-recyclable waste per annum.

A third landowner is also revealed as having unsuccessfully contested requests for access.

James Roditi of Wisbech was said by the Planning Inspectorate to have “initially indicated willingness on one occasion to engage with the applicant.

“However, after this point no further responses or progression of negotiations were noted.”

It says there were “repeated efforts to engage in a voluntary access agreement” but the evidence presented “constitutes an unreasonable refusal”.

Medworth didn’t win every case. The Planning Inspectorate ruled that they had failed to demonstrate they had contacted the tenant of landowner Welle Streame Ltd. Access to their land was refused.

Ginny Bucknor, spokesperson for the Wisbech Without Incineration (WisWIN) campaign group, said: “Many people do not wish this company to be anywhere near their land but they now have no say.

“MVV won the appeal, but they’re certainly not welcome. We’ve suggested affected landowners write to the planning inspectorate and share their views.

“I don’t think people realise that if this goes ahead, it will be the biggest incinerator in Europe. Here, in Wisbech.”

MVV has also been able to go through the planning inspectorate because the incinerator is considered an infrastructure project of national significance.

Paul Carey, managing director of MVV Environment, says the company remains “keen to engage with members of the community to hear their views”.

“This will help inform our final proposals to be submitted with our Development Consent Order application in due course,” he said about the next stage of the application process.

Meanwhile, campaigners continue their fight against the incinerator.

WisWIN will hold a socially-distanced rally from 3pm on Sunday (June 27) in the Market Place.

Dr Nik Johnson, the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, will be a guest speaker.

Those attending are asked to wear a face mask and to remain within their “bubbles” or stay two metres apart.

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