Plans for an ‘energy recovery facility’ in Hoddesdon have been rejected by the Secretary of State.

The proposed facility could have processed up to 320,000 tonnes of the county’s waste every year – producing heat and electricity and preventing the use of landfill.

And it was at the heart of Hertfordshire County Council’s plans to manage waste generated by residents and businesses.

But on Friday (July 19) the county council and waste contractors Veolia were informed that the Secretary of State had decided to refuse the application.

In written confirmation of the decision, it has emerged that the Planning Inspector – who conducted a public inquiry between June and September last year – had recommended the application be approved.

But while the Secretary of State is said to have agreed with the inspector’s conclusions, it says he disagreed with her recommendation.

And he has determined that planning permission be refused.

The county council is said to be “disappointed” by the decision and will now take some time to consider their options.

And waste contractors Veolia have not yet commented on the decision.

In the letter the Secretary of State agrees that an “urgent and pressing need for the proposed facility has been demonstrated”.

He considers the the climate change benefits of the scheme – in terms of saving greenhouse gas emissions and the provision of low carbon energy to the grid – add substantial weight to the case.

And he agrees that there is no obvious alternative site that has been identified.

However he points to parts of Ratty’s Lane where HGVs would be unable to pass – particularly  if ‘passing’ on an adjacent piece of land was prevented by the land owner.

And he says there are parts of the lane are too narrow  for an HGV to safely pass a cyclist or pedestrian.

He says these concerns have “not been satisfactorily addressed”. And he says that these issues – which the Inspector found to be “not ideal” –  are “unacceptable”.

In addition he highlights significant adverse landscape and visual impacts that he says carry considerable weight against the proposal.

The decision will please campaigners who have suggested the planned facility was too big and in the wrong place, would degrade Hoddesdon and increase pollution.

But Hertfordshire County Council say that without the planned energy recovery facility they are left with a “significant problem”.

Commenting on the decision,  a spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “This is very disappointing news.

“With 100,000 new homes expected in Hertfordshire in the next 15 years we urgently need waste treatment capacity in Hertfordshire and if Veolia can’t now build their planned Energy Recovery Facility we’re left with a significant problem.

“We’re running out of options for dealing with the county’s waste.

“We currently transport hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste to other parts of the country for treatment which is expensive and bad for the environment.

“We will now need to take some time to consider our options.”

The controversial application was ‘called-in’ by the Secretary of State, who determined it should be considered by a public inquiry, in February 2018.

And following that inquiry, which ran between June and September last year, the Planning Inspector’s report was handed to the Secretary of State in February this year.

The decision of the Secretary of State can be challenged through the High Court, in some circumstances. Any challenge would have to be lodged within six weeks.