Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Public Inquiry - Day 10

The final witness for Cornwall Council appeared on Tuesday and today was the first day at which the Rule 6 Parties gave evidence.

I was first up to give evidence on behalf of the local area (including St Dennis Against Incineration and St Dennis Parish Council). The evidence I presented was quite varied. I argued that the Waste Local Plan should be accorded limited weight as it had been superseded by a range of key documents, namely Planning Policy Statement 10 and the National Waste Strategy; that the failed Waste Development Framework be accorded no weight at all, and that the proposal did not adequately adhere to the Waste Hierarchy.

I also made much of the fact that it had clearly been pre-determined to locate the facility in or around the China Clay Area, with only sites in the clay parishes of Roche, St Dennis, St Enoder, St Stephen and Treverbyn having been considered.

I even quoted one consultant who had worked with Cornwall Council on its Waste Local Plan process and more latterly the PFI process. This person had written an article about incinerators which stated:

“One of the biggest influences on whether a facility is built may be the vocal indignation of affluent middle class residents keen for their waste to be whisked invisibly away, and who organise themselves into articulate, effective protest groups. Proposals for plants in more deprived areas do not have such a politically influential group of residents to sway the argument.”

Other topics covered included Cornwall County Council’s eight reasons for refusal and the poor level of consultation with the local community by the applicant, both during the pre-application stage and the period of the planning application.

After half-an-hour, I was cross-examined by the Appellant’s legal team who attempted to undermine my position by claiming that, as I was representing the local area, I should take no part in deliberations on waste matters on Cornwall Council. I took exception to this approach and, from what people said afterwards, I think I gave as good as I got in these exchanges.

With the support of our barrister John Lloyd, I was also able to widen out the discussion on a number of points in terms of more sustainable waste alternatives and what was going on at County Hall.

Evidence was also given today by three other local representatives today – Fred Greenslade (impact of the incinerator), Jackie Salmon (footpaths) and Ginny Edwards (nature conservation aspects).

I sincerely hope that we did the local area proud.

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