Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A good day in Denholme


Today, Bradford Council refused permission for the development of a landfill site at Buck Park Quarry near Denholme. In the greater scheme of things a rather minor decision but, for the village concerned, a day for smiles all round. For several reasons.

Firstly, landfill is dirty, messy and mostly unnecessary. The UK's preference for sticking rotting rubbish into holes in the ground rather than using more responsible (and economic) approaches such as waste to energy remains a mystery. I know that the greenies like Friends of the Earth seem to think that incineration is a greater sin than allowing the rubbish to rot slowly into the ground but, in truth it is the most environmentally damaging method of disposal.

Secondly, Denholme villagers campaigned long and hard against the proposals. A previous application was refused by Councillors (against the wishes of planning officers) and only granted permission at an appeal where - shamefully - Bradford Council refused to submit evidence on the specious grounds that they might lose and be awarded costs. To say this spat in the face of local people and the Councillors who voted to refuse permission is an understatement. For technical reasons the development was stopped as local people - again without Council support - took the developer to the High Court where they won. With the result being that the planning permission lapsed (and the Council then won a further High Court case brought by the developer).

Thirdly, the outcome today vindicates the only pledge I made to the electorate four years ago - that I would vote against any proposal or policy that would make landfill more likely even if that proposal was from my party. I did this - voting against the Council's waste management strategy in full council because my group had accepted a Liberal Democrat amendment ruling out waste to energy as a disposal option.

Denholme isn't free from the threat of landfill just yet - I fully expect the developer to appeal. But this time - after fifteen years of equivocation - the Council is on the side of local people. Fighting the appeal won't be down to local fundraising, the odd bit of pro bono work from lawyers and planners and the research efforts of residents. I have every hope that we will win the appeal and that, at last, we will see Denholme free from having the District's rotting rubbish dumped in this convenient hole in the ground.


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