As a concerned member of the public, I attended Wednesday’s South Holland planning committee’s meeting to determine the fate of Sutton Bridge residents, and I witnessed a most dubious example of a political sleight of hand.
The decision on the incinerator was deferred on a narrow criterion of domestic/business power supply, and the chair argued that all other outstanding and unconfirmed conditions would be assumed to have been met.
I should like to point out that there is a whole raft of outstanding conditions that have not been met, and the chair cannot assume that they will be met.
I cite one example: the committee reduced the 24 hour working/delivery day to 12 hours. This implies the 65 or so biomass deliveries per 24 hours, to the plant could now be squeezed into 12 hours, making daytime congestion twice as bad as feared. The committee did not notice or debate this consequence of confining deliveries to 7am to 7pm. There are other examples.
What is clear, is that some or all of the committee did not spot this sleight of hand. From the public gallery it seemed obvious that the meeting was disproportionately influenced by a chair and officers, who would not discus issues relevant to the incinerator application that were not in the application document. Thus it seems, if an application document leaves out what many would take to be relevant considerations, then, according to the chair and his officers, those issues either cannot be discussed, or may be discussed but cannot influence the planning judgement. Thus, logically, the parameters of planning consent, are determined by the deft skills of the application document writer.
What is left out is at least as important as what is included and we cannot let this procedural fog allow the incinerator through.