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House of Commons Hansard
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Petitions
25 February 2020
Volume 672

Petitions

Tuesday 25 February 2020

OBSERVATIONS

Housing, Communities and Local Government

Gasification plant in Hillthorn Park, Washington

The petition of residents of Washington and Sunderland West constituency,

Declares that the petitioners oppose the building of a Gasification plant in Hillthorn Park, Washington.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to recognise the opposition to the planning application; and calls on the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to reject the planning application 17/02085/MW4.

And the petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Mrs Sharon Hodgson, Official Report, 21 January 2020; Vol. 670, c. 274.]

[P002551]

Observations from the Minister for Housing (Christopher Pincher):

The application referred to is now the subject of a planning appeal to the Secretary of State. The appeal inquiry opened on 18 February 2020 and it was attended by approximately 250 people. Before any evidence was heard, the main parties submitted an application to the Inspector to adjourn the inquiry to allow time for confidential commercial negotiations to take place the outcome of which was expected to be the withdrawal of the appeal. The request was endorsed by all objectors and by the MP who was present. The Inspector found the application represented exceptional circumstances and agreed to the request. The inquiry will resume on 18 June 2020 if the negotiations falter and the appeal is not withdrawn before then.

The Planning Inspectorate has received a request from the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Sharon Hodgson) that the appeal be recovered by the Secretary of State on the grounds that it conflicts with national policies on important matters and raises significant questions regarding the interpretation of those policies for RDF-based gasification plants. The Secretary of State will consider and respond to this request as soon as possible.

While the Government recognise the opposition to the planning application/appeal, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the eventual decision as to do so could prejudice the Inspector’s or Secretary of State’s (if the appeal were to be recovered), consideration of the appeal prior to having heard and then considered all the evidence, both for and against the proposal.

Minerals quarry in Barford, Warwickshire

The petition of residents of the constituency of Warwick and Leamington,

Declares that Warwickshire County Council’s plans for a minerals quarry in Wasperton, near the village of Barford, should be withdrawn.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ensure that Warwickshire County Council’s plans for a minerals quarry in Wasperton, near the village of Barford, should be withdrawn.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Matt Western, Official Report, 4 February 2020; Vol. 671, c. 285.]

[P002554]

Observations from the Minister for Housing (Christopher Pincher):

Warwickshire County Council, as the mineral planning authority, is responsible for the preparation of its mineral local plan. All local plans, including mineral local plans, must be independently examined in public and found sound before they can be adopted by the Council. That examination is conducted on behalf of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government by the Planning Inspectorate. The purpose of the independent examination is to assess whether the Warwickshire Mineral Plan has been prepared in accordance with legal and procedural requirements and if it is sound based on the criteria set out in paragraph 35 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2019. The Inspector will review the submission version of the plan, all the relevant supporting evidence and representations received.

The Warwickshire Minerals Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government for independent examination on Friday 29 November 2019. A Planning Inspector has been appointed and will now conduct an examination into the Warwickshire Mineral Plan’s soundness. Hearing sessions have been scheduled to commence on the 3 June 2020. At the end of the examination, the Inspector will prepare a report to the Council with precise recommendations, these recommendations may include modifications to the Plan, if such a request is made by the Council.

Given the Secretary of State’s quasi-judicial role in the planning system as outlined above I am unable to comment on the detail of the Warwickshire Minerals Plan and in particular the merits or otherwise of the proposed plans for a minerals quarry in Wasperton, near the village of Barford. I appreciate that your constituents have concerns about this proposal but would seek to reassure you that the local plan preparation and examination process gives them opportunities to raise these concerns. I hope you will appreciate that it is not appropriate for me to comment further since this could interfere in the completion of a fair and impartial examination by the appointed Inspector.