I can confirm that there have been no recent discussions between DEFRA Ministers and Covanta about its planned projects in my hon. Friend’s constituency. DEFRA officials have attended meetings between Covanta and local authorities about Covanta’s planned projects there, as part of the standard procedure of supporting local authorities in their waste management procurement processes.
The Infrastructure Planning Commission has begun an online registration process for Mid Bedfordshire constituents to register their intent to object to the Covanta proposals. That process depends upon constituents having read a 7,000-page document. Will the Secretary of State and the Minister support me in a call to halt the online registration process today, so that the irregularities of it can be examined, and possibly so that it can be aborted and revisited at a later stage?
I am interested in that process, which fulfils part of the greater democratic accountability that the Government are talking about for decisions such as the one in my hon. Friend’s constituency, about which I know she feels strongly. That is why we are abolishing the IPC and replacing it with an organisation within the Planning Inspectorate that will have much more democratic accountability. I hope that as many of her constituents as possible can contribute to the consultation before 19 November, but I will discuss her views with colleagues elsewhere in government.