SOUTH West Wiltshire MP Dr Andrew Murrison has asked the new Environment Minister Steve Barclay for a meeting to discuss the £200 million Westbury incinerator.

The request came after the local MP congratulated Mr Barclay on his appointment as the new Environment Minister in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s November reshuffle.

Dr Murrison said: “I am pleased that environmental policy is in the stewardship of someone who understands the problems with incinerators. I look forward to discussing these matters with Steve in his new capacity.” 

Dr Murrison has long advocated a moratorium on the granting of planning permission for new incinerators and a tax on incinerators similar to the landfill tax.

He has frequently pointed out to Ministers that England is projected to have excess incinerator capacity and that it will work against more responsible means of waste management. 

Mr Barclay has also had experience with incinerators in his capacity as the constituency MP for North East Cambridgeshire.

He has criticised plans by MVV Environmental Ltd to build an incinerator in the town of Wisbech in his constituency as ‘deeply flawed’.

Dr Murrison and Mr Barclay had met with the Environment Minister’s predecessor Thérèse Coffey in the summer to object to waste incineration. 

Meanwhile, the Westbury Gasification Action Group WGAG – No Westbury Incinerator is drawing comfort from the fact that the proposed Westbury incinerator has not yet been built.

WGAG spokesperson Dan Gmaj said: “We are the grown-up's in the room, so must continue to do the right thing.

“In this instance that means that all we utterly reject the planning inspectorate's undemocratic ruling.

“We insist that the democratic decision, as ratified by our unitary authority, remains that there must be No Westbury Incinerator.”

Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd originally obtained planning permission for its scheme from Wiltshire Council in 2015. It was later given planning permission in June 2019 for a revision to the Northacre site layout.

Planning permissions were also granted in July 2019 to install an underground cable that will connect the low carbon energy generated from the proposed energy from waste facility with the local distribution network at a substation on the edge of Frome.

On February 20 this year, NREL was granted permission by planning inspector Stephen Normington to switch the technology of its planned energy from waste plant in Westbury from gasification to moving grate combustion. 

NREL had lodged an appeal against Wiltshire Council last year over the local authority’s “failure to determine the application within an agreed timeframe”.

The appeal came shortly before Wiltshire's strategic planning committee rejected the application in July 2022, saying it was minded to refuse the application because it did not represent sustainable development.

NREL is a joint venture between the Bioenergy Infrastructure Group and the Swindon-based Hills Group, which owns the Northacre Resource Recovery Centre next to where it hopes to build the incinerator.

In his decision, Mr Normington said he had taken account of the government’s aim of halving residual waste by 2042, saying it would not impact the proposed Westbury facility.

On January 31 2023, after the close of the inquiry, the government published the ‘Environmental Improvement Plan’ which sets out several targets relevant to waste management.

Mr Normington said in his ruling: “Both parties were aware of some of the proposed draft targets contained therein during the inquiry and these were reflected in relevant aspects of evidence.

“Consequently, I do not consider the need to re-open the inquiry in light of the publication of the Environmental Improvement Plan and I have taken this into account.”