CHAIN was delighted to read the news that the Government has rejected the application from LSEP to increase the amount of waste due to be burned at the new Lostock Incinerator. As the news on the Cheshire West & Cheshire website says:
“Consent has been refused for the Application after considering the planning balance and the significant harms highlighted. The Secretary of State has added that no further information is required to enable him to take a decision on the Application and that it would not, therefore, be appropriate to cause a discretionary public inquiry to be held into the Application.”
Of particular note in this decision is that for the first time, the Government has recognised the ‘significant harms’ likely to be generated by this development. Whilst those harms will still exist with the scheme that has been given the green light, stopping the extension seeks to cap those harms. What is crucial, however, is that for the first time we have public recognition, from the Government, that the scheme will create significant harms to the local community.
CHAIN have campaigned against this development for almost 25 years, and the arguments we were making in 2000 are still as relevant today, if not more so, than they were back then. The significant and lasting harms from the nanoparticulate output of the incinerator chimney, the diesel fumes from the delivery lorries, and the sheer stupidity of transporting waste hundreds or even thousands of miles, to burn it in Northwich have never made sense. Add to this the modern-day drive for Net Zero and this makes even less sense. Transporting waste creates a huge carbon footprint and none of this can possibly be offset in any meaningful way.
Several of the original CHAIN team have either moved away or, in some cases, passed away over the years. What is so pleasing though is that a new generation of people have picked up the issue and run with it. Today, we are seeing support from Esther McVey MP, Mike Amesbury MP, and several local councillors including Cllr Matt Bryan, Cllr Sam Naylor, and council leader Louise Gittins. These, along with all of those who have objected to this development, including every one of the 25,000 signatories of the 2013 petition, have sought to make Northwich a better town and a safer environment.
So, whilst we welcome this latest victory, we are still facing the prospect of this incinerator opening in 2025 and importing waste to burn in our town. It made no sense in 2000 and it makes no sense now. We still need to do whatever we can to prevent this project from ever reaching completion and the latest admission that it does, and will, create significant harms, may just help in that fight.