Call for vote to ‘immediately’ withdraw incinerator plans

PUBLISHED: 06:00 15 May 2013

cllr Maureen Cook

cllr Maureen Cook

Archant

COUNTY Hall chiefs are facing a call to immediately abandon controversial Hatfield incinerator plans

A newly-elected councillor lodged a resolution ahead of Herts County Council’s annual meeting urging a rethink – but said she was “gobsmacked” after learning it would not be heard.

It comes in a week when the leader of Herts County Council admitted the incinerator had cost his party votes – but said it would be too costly to pull out.

Councillor Maureen Cook, who won the Hatfield North seat at the start of the month, called on bosses to explore alternative technology to waste burning.

Cllr Cook, Labour, told the WHT: “This will put the cat amongst the pigeons, but I think that’s why I was elected.”

Despite lodging the application last week, procedural rules meant it was not accepted.

“I’m gobsmacked,” Cllr Cook said, vowing to lodge the motion at the next opportunity.

She said: “Hatfield always seems to be dumped on and nobody speaks up for us, but that’s what I’m determined to do.”

In October last year, a planning committee backed the 385,000-tonne-a-year New Barnfield plant.

But Conservative-controlled Welwyn Hatfield Council has since agreed to spend £125,000 opposing the plant ahead of a planning inquiry in September.

This month’s county council elections saw the Conservatives lose two seats in Hatfield.

Cllr Robert Gordon, leader at County Hall, said: “There were a lot of things which resulted in us losing those seats, but I’m perfectly willing to accept that some people voted on the issue of the energy for waste proposal.

“It’s inevitable when you’ve got a major infrastructure proposal which benefits the county as a whole, people living locally to it will be less happy.”

But he said there was no scope for a u-turn, unless the project is thrown out by a planning inspector.

Cllr Gordon, Conservative, said: “We’re in a contractual situation with (developers) Veolia.

“We couldn’t rescind the contract without a substantial financial liability.”

Explaining why the resolution would not be heard next week, a County Hall spokeswoman said: “As part of the county council’s constitution, 14 days’ notice is required for motions [that do not relate to a report on the council agenda].

“This is to ensure that council business can be conducted in a planned way.

“We appreciate that there was a tight deadline for this council meeting following the election (on May 2).

“However, the councillor will be able to submit her resolution for the July meeting, which will give the appropriate notice to her colleagues to consider it.”


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