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Anger as Biffa Waste Decision Delayed

Councillors vote to defer decision on waste plant

Dozens of objectors opposing a waste-to-energy plant in Swansea filled the public gallery at the city’s Guildhall – and then trudged out again when the planning committee deferred the item.

Biffa Waste Services wants the plant to deal with 21,000 tonnes of commercial waste collected locally per year rather than transporting it by lorry to a landfill site in Merthyr Tydfil.

But its Swansea Enterprise Park application has generated significant opposition from people and councillors in the area and the Welsh Government said the council’s planning committee could reject it at a meeting on April 2 but not grant approval.

Councillor Des Thomas called for the application, which council officers had recommended for approval, to be deferred.

“I think it’s very difficult for us as a committee to make a decision knowing that the Welsh Government could call in this application,” he said.

A council officer said the advice from the Welsh Government was for the committee to come to a decision on the proposal, notwithstanding ministers’ “holding direction”.

The officer added that the council could face a “non-determination” issue if the matter was not considered within a certain time frame.

He then referred to the Mumbles Pier foreshore and headland application before Christmas, in which the Welsh Government had offered similar advice prior to the planning committee going ahead and debating the item.

Councillor Thomes replied: “I think it’s unfair to quote another application. Every application should be treated on its merit.”

Councillor Richard Lewis said the committee should come to a decision and make its voice heard.

“I think it (deferral) is totally the wrong attitude,” he said. “A lot of people have come here.”

Six councillors voted in favour of deferral and five against.

That prompted something of a mass exodus, including children carrying “We Say No” placards.

Councillor Lewis: “That is a terrible shame, chairman.”

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