A CONTROVERSIAL incinerator to deal with non-recyclable waste has been given the go ahead in Gloucestershire and construction will begin as soon as possible.
After a shock decision from Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles this morning months of delays were ended as the project was given the green light.
This decision is the latest in a string of challenges and appeals to the application which can now only be reversed if it is taken to the High Court.
The new facility, to be based at Javelin Park near Stroud will be used to burn 150,000 tonnes of waste.
Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) was awarded a contract to design and build the facility in February 2013 but the council refused planning permission for the facility and UBB appealed to the Secretary of State.
The incinerator has sparked protests and meetings since it was designed and has been hugely controversial in and around Stroud.
In his decision Mr Pickles said that he believed the plans would contribute to the government’s energy production policy until 2050 and not hinder their work on climate change.
Cllr Ray Theodoulou, cabinet member for waste, said: "Today's decision means the rubbish we can't recycle can be disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly way.
"Our aim is to reach 70 per cent recycling across the county and stop burying waste in the ground completely. As well as this new facility, Gloucestershire will also be using anaerobic digestion to treat food waste and recycling more. This all takes us a huge step closer."
Cllr Nigel Moor, chair of planning committee, said: "The committee robustly defended its decision to an independent inspector at the public inquiry last year. However, we acknowledge today's announcement."
UBB will be reviewing the Secretary of State's decision in full and construction will start as soon as possible.
Leader of Stroud District Council Geoff Wheeler said: "This is a real disappointment; however we hope that the recent appraisal of alternative options by Gloucestershire County Council will see it review its intentions.
"Whilst permission has been given, they could still opt for a solution to deal with waste which maximises recycling, maintains flexibility and minimises the impact on the environment and taxpayers’ purses.
"The case against adding more incineration capacity in the UK has become stronger and stronger and we and all the other districts should be able to work together with the county council to deliver the best solution for the future."
Stroud District Council gave evidence against the proposed incinerator at a public inquiry, objecting to due to its impact on the adjacent area of outstanding natural beauty, the nearby Hunts Grove development and the inefficiency of the solution when compared to other options.
County councillor and parliamentary candidate for the Cotswolds Paul Hodgkinson was outraged by Mr Pickles' decision.
He said: "Today’s decision by Eric Pickles is absolutely mad. He has ignored the wishes of residents and the county council’s planning committee by allowing what will be a massive blot on the landscape next to the Cotswold AONB.
"This incinerator will have a voracious appetite for waste and will need to be fed constantly – will there be enough waste from just our county to feed it?
"It looks unlikely, so waste will have to be brought in from elsewhere to be burned. From any green perspective this is ridiculous."