The grant of planning permission earlier this week, on appeal, to Peel Energy for their 20MW biomass renewable energy plant in Trafford will have caused concerns to supporters of the concept of Localism. There had been a particularly high number of opponents to the scheme, many of whom, as local residents, spoke at the inquiry of their concerns about pollution and health risks.
Nevertheless, although some weight was given to the concerns, there was insufficient evidence to back them up so this weight was limited. An environmental permit had been issued shortly before the inquiry, and the Secretary of State declared himself bound to proceed on the basis that the pollution control regime would be properly applied and enforced. PPS10 continues in force and has not been superseded by NPPF.
The Inspector addressed the Localism point saying; "localism has generated a high level of expectation that decisions on controversial developments should be taken locally". That expectation was not met in this case. Following the Tewkesbury decision, the writing has been on the wall for the future of Localism in any event.
Interestingly, a screening opinion from the Council (confirmed by the Secretary of State) concluded no EIA was needed. Nevertheless, a voluntary ES was submitted (the direction on the issue from the Secretary of State will have disapplied the application of the EIA Regulation 3 prohibition on grant in spite of the voluntary ES).