An entirely predictable establishment carve up at Engineers’ House in Clifton yesterday as posh men in grey suits reached a DEAL on the first day of the public inquiry into Day Group’s efforts to get an environmental licence for their waste processing plant at Avonmouth. A plant that should never have been built.
The Environment Agency (EA) had been refusing the plant, which has NO planning permission and needs to be pulled down, a licence to operate citing concerns over dust pollution. However, when everyone sat down at 10.00am to start the inquiry, the EA announced they had agreed to grant a licence the previous evening following SECRET NEGOTIATIONS between Day Group and the EA. This effectively rendered the inquiry – into whether this licence should be granted – totally pointless.
The EA cave-in was wholly predictable to anyone who had had sight of Day Group’s defence presented by man in grey, David “Snooty” Elevin QC, the most obnoxious man in the room – or any room for that matter. This defence pointed out that the EA’s original REFUSAL to grant a licence was largely based on draft guidelines, yet to be agreed. While, according to any existing guidelines, it should have been granted. The EA has, again, FAILED Avonmouth residents after it had little choice but to concede in advance or be publicly humiliated for rank incompetence.
Planning Inspector, Nick “Grey” Palmer, decided to plough on regardless, however, and allow the two other respondents at the inquiry, Bristol City Council and Avonmouth residents, represented by local activist Ian “Fly” Robinson, to present their case as to why a licence should be REFUSED.
Bristol City Council’s grey men, also the Planning Authority who should be serving Day Group with a Planning Enforcement Notice to demolish the plant, claim to have concerns about potential noise pollution from the plant. While residents are generally BEMUSED by a licencing process that allows a polluting waste processing plant to operate from an enormous industrial plant that has no planning permission and would be unlikely to get it.
Planning Inspector, Palmer, however, has made it clear all along that he will NOT be looking at any planning aspects of the case on the basis he could only consider EA licencing matters. This approach clearly suits Bristol City Council too. The last thing they want is a FORENSIC public inquiry into how their planning officers and senior bosses allowed Day Group to build this plant in the first place.
Residents obviously do want a proper inquiry into the council’s planning SHAMBLES not least, as Robinson pointed out, because there’s no public confidence whatsoever in Bristol City Council, the Environment Agency or the Planning Inspectorate as they effectively dump another polluting waste processing plant on residents’ doorsteps. This one outside of the law.
Ian requested that Palmer DIRECTLY ADDRESS the issue of why he was refusing to look at the planning issue in his written conclusion to the inquiry. It remains to be seen whether Palmer will provide residents with this courtesy as lawyers for the residents begin to circle this crooked shambles with increasing interest.
Avonmouth residents will be giving statements and speaking truth to power at the inquiry on Thursday morning from 9.30am at Engineers House, Clifton BS8 3NB. Please attend and support – Ian will try and sort you out with tea and biscuits!
Perhaps the alleged secret meeting with Labour MP Darren Hall and local Labour councillors had something to do with it too?
Labour councillors met with SIMS Metal, a different firm on the same site who will be expanding operations despite regular explosions at the site.