CONTROVERSIAL plans for an incinerator in Middlewich were dealt another blow last week.

Councillors from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) voted unanimously against Covanta’s proposals for an ‘Energy from waste’ plant at Midpoint 18 business park, last Tuesday.

As a neighbouring authority, CWAC’s planning board is acting as a consultee to Cheshire East Council, which will ultimately decide the application’s fate.

The development comes just weeks after Middlewich Town Council recommended the incinerator for refusal.

Clr Mike Parsons, of Middlewich Town Council, said: “That’s excellent news. It really says something when the area that’s not going to be directly affected by the incinerator objects to it.

“If Cheshire East, for whatever reason, feels it cannot support that decision, it will be a very sad day.”

The proposed incinerator will be capable of handling 370,000 tonnes of waste a year.

At the meeting, CWAC councillors discussed a report that stated that around 185,000 tonnes of waste would be extracted for recycling.

The remaining waste would be burned to produce steam to generate 35 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 50,000 homes.

Other nearby businesses like British Salt are set to benefit from the possibility of exporting steam.

But the planning board members were not satisfied that there was enough information for an effective assessment to be made regarding the impact on air quality on the busy A54, which would be used by hundreds of lorries if the plant went ahead.

Malcolm Chilton, managing director of Covanta, was disappointed that the application was objected to on the basis of ‘insufficient information’ and wanted the decision to be deferred.

He said: “This would have allowed council officers to request any further information they might wish to see and to allow a full assessment of the application.”

Like Middlewich Town Council, the CWAC councillors also agreed that Covanta’s plans could be contrary to the Waste Local Plan.

After the meeting, planning board chairman Andrew Storrar added: “The plant would not be processing Cheshire waste but would be bringing it in from outside the area.

“This is contrary to the Waste Local Plan which aims to meet the needs of Cheshire’s population and businesses rather than serve a much wider area.

“Also air quality along the A54 is extremely important for local people. It is estimated that of the 292 journeys in and out of the plant each day, 156 of these would be made along the A54.

“These additional lorry movements could have a detrimental effect on air quality.”

But Mr Chiltern said: “Covanta’s proposed facility meets the need to manage Cheshire’s waste in a sustainable way.

“We have demonstrated, using data provided by Cheshire’s Waste Local Plan, that there is sufficient waste within Cheshire to fuel our plant and significantly reduce the need for new landfills.”

Cheshire Anti-incinerator Network (CHAIN) has also welcomed the news.

Chairman Brian Cartwright, who spoke at the meeting, said: “We were very gratified that again common sense prevailed and Cheshire West has come out against this silly proposal by Covanta.“Cheshire West and Cheshire East have got to act as one voice so I’m treating this as a very good sign.”

Clr Parsons added: “No one’s daft – we know there needs to be a solution on waste but there are safer ways of treating it.

“At the end of the day, no one will know the full impact of incinerators and the health risks attached for about another 30 years.

“There’s too many unknowns and for that reason, we shouldn’t be meddling with it.”