Legal challenge against Hatfield special needs school move

ANTI-INCINERATOR campaigners are launching a legal challenge against plans to move a special needs school in order to build the controversial waste burner.

Legal fighting fund The New Barnfield Trust is ordering a judicial review into Hertfordshire County Council’s decision to relocate Southfield School to the former Howe Dell School playing fields in Woods Avenue, Hatfield.

The council wants to move the school for the next five years, while the 380,000-tonne incinerator is built at New Barnfield.

That’s despite the fact a decision on Veolia Environmental Services’ incinerator planning application is yet to be made.

But the trust believes that by relocating Southfield early, it is easing the way for the incinerator scheme to be passed.

Welwyn Hatfield MP and New Barnfield Trust chairman Grant Shapps said: “No one in their right mind would place an incinerator next door to a special needs school.

“Yet moving the pupils to another location on a temporary basis is clearly an attempt to separate the planning permission for the school from that of the incinerator.

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“In planning terms this is wrong and as chair of the New Barnfield Trust, which has fundraised to fight the incinerator at the location, we have decided to launch this judicial review.”

The organisation has also called for a new environmental impact to be undertaken at the Woods Avenue site, in the belief the fields are home to a several protected species of bats.

And it wants archeological work currently taking place at the Woods Avenue site to be halted immediately.

But a council spokeswoman said: “Once we receive official documents indicating that a legal challenge has been launched, we will consider whether work will progress.

“In the meantime, the archaeological exploration work currently taking place will continue.

“Planning permission was granted subject to several conditions. One of these was that archaeological work must be carried out to make sure the construction of temporary buildings doesn’t damage the historic environment of the site.”