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Planning Permission Refused for Strategic Waste Recycling and Recovery Facility in the Buckinghamshire Green Belt

Alexander Greaves

Following public inquiry earlier this year, an Inspector has dismissed a s. 78 appeal against the decision of Buckinghamshire County Council to refuse planning permission for a strategic waste facility comprising a materials recycling facility (100,000 tpa); anaerobic digestion facility (50,000 tpa); and a construction, demolition and excavation recycling facility (150,000 tpa) on a former mineral extraction and existing landfill site in the Buckinghamshire Green Belt.

The Appellant had argued that although the proposal constituted inappropriate development in the Green Belt, the urgent need for additional waste facilities in the south of the County and lack of suitable alternative sites outside the Green Belt to meet this need amounted to very special circumstances.

The Inspector disagreed. Although there was a need for additional waste recycling facilities, the evidence did not indicate a need for facilities of this scale in order to serve the local catchment of Southern Buckinghamshire. Furthermore, the Inspector found that the alternative site assessment could only be given negligible weight because the Appellant had not considered the possibility of splitting up the facilities, sites identified in employment land availability assessments and emerging allocations, or the extent to which modern MRF/AD facilities could satisfactorily be accommodated on employment/industrial estates even if these were located in the vicinity of residential or other sensitive receptors.

The decision is also interesting because, when considering environmental harm, the Inspector found that the appropriate baseline for the assessment of effects was the approved restoration scheme for the current landfill despite the Appellant’s argument that there was insufficient landfill to fill the remaining void space.

Alexander Greaves acted for the successful Waste Planning Authority.

The decision can be found here.