War chest set up to fight any appeal after controversial Washington gasification plant plans rejected by Sunderland councillors

Opponents to rejected plans for a ‘monster incinerator’ in Washington have already prepared a war chest to fight off a potential legal challenge.

By James Harrison
Saturday, 20 July, 2019, 24:16

The panel’s decision was made despite a recommendation from the city council’s planning department to green light the scheme, prompting a warning the process could be referred to the government’s Planning Inspectorate.

Protesters outside the Stadium of Light, where a planning meeting is being over a controversial gasification plant

But protestors who packed the meeting at the Stadium of Light say they have already started preparations to fight any attempts to overturn the ruling.

David Tatters, of the ‘No Monster Incinerator in Washington’ group, wouldn’t reveal how much money was available for a second fight, but said: “We’re going to be ready for an appeal, we’ve thought ahead about an appeal and we will be working with our MP.”

Before the meeting, a report by planning chiefs had argued the negative aspects of the application were ‘demonstrably outweighed by its benefits’.

This included the need for a facility which would see less waste sent to landfill, the provision of ‘low carbon and partially renewable energy’ and job creation.

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Protesters outside the Stadium of Light, where a planning meeting is being held about a waste incinerator. Picture: Tom Banks

Speaking at the meeting, Coun John Kelly, secretary of the council’s ruling cabinet, was dismissive of the prospect of 35 full time positions being created by the scheme, claiming a McDonald’s restaurant could employ more people.

It was also felt the plans clashed with the council’s draft Core Strategy and Development Plan, which is awaiting government approval.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson also spoke against the incinerator and thought it could be defeated a second time on appeal.

She said: “I know these appeals cost money but I think the council is in a very strong position, based on the evidence we’ve heard, the strength of feeling from the community and all the detail discussed that I think [the decision] should be upheld.”

After the decision, a spokeswoman for the applicant, Rolton Kilbride, said it would “reviewing all available options”.

She added: “The proposed facility would have provided many distinct benefits to the local economy, as well as the wider North East region.”