12 October 2017
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is to formally appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the new sewage treatment works at Bellozanne made by the Planning Applications Committee on Thursday 21 September 2017.
The reason for the refusal given by the Planning Committee is that the proposed development does not include sufficient measures to mitigate the odour concerns, raised by the local residents in the vicinity of the site, who have asked that several large primary settlement tanks be covered in the new works at an approximate additional cost of £4.1m.
The planning application submitted by DfI contained the results of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment, which included significant information on odour assessments carried out at the Bellozanne site.
These odour assessments indicated that there would be an 18% decrease in odours generated from the new site, as the proposals already included for the most odour generating processes being covered and odour controlled.
This 18% reduction would be in addition to the reduction in other odours achieved at Bellozanne by the recent commissioning of new sludge treatment facilities in 2015, and the re-location of other waste processing operations such as the Energy from Waste plant, the Public Green Waste Reception, the Clinical Waste incinerator and the Household Recycling Centre.
The methodology used for the odour assessments was in accordance with current UK practice and was approved by the Environmental Health Department prior to the assessments being carried out, and the Environmental Health Department subsequently confirmed during the planning consultation period that they had no objections to the submitted proposals.
Planning Officers also recommended approval of the scheme as submitted.
Nevertheless, given the objections to the proposals from local residents, and their request to cover the primary settlement tanks, DfI confirmed to the Planning Committee that they were happy to incorporate the means to cover the tanks at a later date and reassess the situation once the plant was built.
If, indeed, these additional odour control measures proved necessary, they would spend the additional approximate sum of £4.1m to cover the tanks.
However, given that these proposals have now been rejected, DfI considers that, as it has an obligation to properly safeguard the use of public finances and achieve value for money under the Public Finance Law, it has no alternative but to appeal the refusal of the application.
Further odour modelling assessments have indicated that expenditure of the additional £4.1m will have limited benefit for local residents and therefore this significant additional expenditure cannot be justified at this time.
Deputy Eddie Noel, Minister for Infrastructure said “Obviously, we were disappointed with the rejection of our planning application for new sewage treatment works. This is a vital project for the Island. We were surprised with the reasoning behind the rejection. Firstly, odours would be significantly reduced with the new plant compared to those currently experienced. Secondly, why would it be logical to spend £4.1m of public money if, as the Environmental Impact Assessment indicates, it was unnecessary? We should only consider spending that sizeable amount of money, which could otherwise be spent on priority areas such as health and education, if indeed there is a problem. We will only know that once the STW is built and tested.”