Hatfield incinerator will be seen from Luton
PUBLISHED: 17:04 09 September 2011 | UPDATED: 10:27 11 September 2011
THE Hatfield incinerator will be so tall, people living in the next county will see it – and Hertfordshire County Council knew it all along.
Documents made public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) reveal the county council drew up plans for a 45m tall, dome-shaped building with an 80m chimney stack back in June 2009 – almost exactly like the one now being proposed by contract winners Veolia Environmental Services.
A map detailing a “Zone of Visual Influence” suggests the chimney will be visible almost 15 miles away in Luton, as well as all of Welwyn Hatfield, some of Knebworth and most of Potters Bar.
Residents in St Albans, Harpenden and Wheathampstead will also have a clear view of the eyesore.
The documents were made public through an FOI request by David Ashton, of campaign group Herts WithoutWaste, asking for the council’s documentation provided to bidders ahead of the contract procurement process.
The county council twice refused the request, saying the material was “commercially sensitive”.
But the documents were eventually released after Mr Ashton made a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
“We were only too aware that the council would not release commercially sensitive information,” Mr Ashton said.
“But there was nothing commercially sensitive about it whatsoever, and the ICO agreed with us.
“They didn’t want to release it because they knew damn well it was controversial.”
Paul Zukowskyj, secretary of the New Barnfield Trust, said: “This stuff about commercial confidentiality is clearly a smokescreen – they don’t want to release stuff that would be particularly embarrassing.”
A county council spokesman said: “At the time the original FOI was made, the procurement process was ongoing and the information was part of a package that was regarded as commercially sensitive.
“By the time the ICO began their investigation into the complaint, the procurement process was over and we indicated that we were willing to release the information.
“Although the proposed facility will potentially be seen from a number of vantage points, some quite distant, this will be mitigated by existing surroundings and landscape. For example, the view from Hatfield House will be obscured by Millward Woods.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Welwyn Hatfield Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.