MIDDLEWICH'S waste plant battle is finally over.
After an agonising four year wait, Covanta's controversial plans to build an incinerator in Midpoint 18 business park, 500m from the town centre, have been thrown out.
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, made his decision public on Friday to dismiss the American corporation’s appeal.
Brian Cartwright, chairman of Cheshire Anti-incinerator Network (CHAIN), said: “This announcement is a great victory for the people of Middlewich and I know it will lift a dark cloud of dread that has been over the area since Covanta came on the scene.
“It comes after CHAIN and the community fought a long campaign to oppose the proposal.
“We note with interest that Mr Pickles and the Planning Inspector placed a great deal of emphasis on the issues raised by us which included need for the facility, traffic impact including vehicle emissions, health, air quality, visual impact, natural habitat and the localism agenda.
“CHAIN would like to particularly thank the local people who actively supported our campaign for their hard work and enormous efforts in opposing the proposal.
“They have also rightly earned the gratitude of generations of Middlewich townspeople.”
Covanta wanted to build a £200million waste plant capable of burning 370,000 tonnes of commercial waste a year.
February 2008 - Covanta reveals its plans for a Middlewich incinerator
March 2009 - Covanta applies for planning permission
June 2009 - Middlewich Town Council recommends the scheme for refusal
April 2010 - Cheshire East Council rejects the proposal
March 2011 - Public inquiry begins after Covanta appeals against the decision
July 2012 - Secretary of State dismisses the appeal
Clr Mike Parsons, ward member for Middlewich, said: “On Friday, July 20, justice ruled in favour of fairness and common sense and struck a blow for democracy and the common man.
“Cheshire, and Middlewich in particular, is worth far more than becoming the dumping ground of the UK and together we can be proud of continuing to defend that standpoint."
Clr Keith Bagnall, chairman of Middlewich Town Council planning committee added: "This is fantastic news for the people of Middlewich.
“Since the very start, Middlewich Town Council, along with our colleagues on Cheshire East Council, have fought against this proposal on sound planning principles such as traffic and visual impact.
“We were not being NIMBY (not in my back yard) - if we had been we could have lost. At every stage we used the planning process against Covanta.”
The incinerator plans were refused by Cheshire East Council in April 2010.
Covanta decided to appeal despite overwhelming opposition from campaign group Cheshire Anti-incinerator Network, an 8,000-strong petition and 3,300 letters of objection.
But Mr Cartwright warned that Covanta still has six weeks to launch another appeal.
Malcolm Chilton, Covanta’s managing director, said: “We are disappointed that the Secretary of State has decided to refuse planning permission for our proposed energy-from-waste facility at the Midpoint 18 business park in Middlewich.
“We are reviewing the decision to inform our options as to how to proceed.”