Campaigners are celebrating the decision to halt the development of an incinerator waste plant near Usk.

An enforcement notice issued by Monmouthshire County Council, which came into effect this week, requires the owners of the plant in Gwehelog to cease operations and remove all incineration plant and machinery.

“This is fantastic news for local residents,” said Lindsey Williams, secretary of SWIPE (Stop Waste Incineration, Protect the Environment).

“It also means that up to a million tonnes of carbon, which could have been emitted over the 25-year life of the plant, will not add to the burden on our planet”.

The National Wales: From 2019 - Lindsey Williams, of anti-incinerator group SWIPE, unfolds the group's petition with Monmouthshire council leader Peter Fox. Photo: SWIPEFrom 2019 - Lindsey Williams, of anti-incinerator group SWIPE, unfolds the group's petition with Monmouthshire council leader Peter Fox. Photo: SWIPE

SWIPE had spearheaded local opposition to a planning application for further development of the incinerator, submitted to the council in 2018.

More than a thousand residents in Usk and surrounding areas had signed a petition opposing the plans two years ago.

The scheme was also opposed by Usk Town Council, Llanarth Fawr and Gwehelog Fawr Community Councils, and local bodies such as Usk Civic Society, Friends of the Earth and the Abergavenny branch of Extinction Rebellion.

The enforcement action follows a successful Judicial Review claim by SWIPE against Monmouthshire County Council.

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“Barn extensions at Trostrey Court Farm that were approved by the council in 2010 and 2011 to store straw, were instead used to house a gasification plant”, said Mrs Williams.

"SWIPE could find no evidence that planning permission had been given for this change of use”, said Mrs Williams.

“The council wrongly and repeatedly claimed the use of the barns - to house industrial plant to generate electricity - was lawful.

"Only when SWIPE started court proceedings last November did MCC agree that it wasn’t. The consent order from the High Court, issued in May this year confirmed this”.

MCC agreed to pay £19,000 plus VAT towards SWIPE’s legal costs of bringing this claim.

“It is regrettable that the council only conceded the claim once papers were lodged with the court”, said Mrs Williams.

“If the council had accepted the straightforward fact of the matter at the outset, those costs, together with MCC’s own costs - we estimate £30,000 in total - would have been saved."

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Mrs Williams continued: “SWIPE is delighted that the council has taken enforcement action to rescind the unlawful use of straw barns for electricity generation. Local residents hope this is the end of the line for the troubled plant, which had technical problems from the outset.

“I should like to place on record my sincere thanks to local residents and organisations who provided solid support for our campaign”.

A spokesperson for Monmouthshire County Council said: “We are pleased the judicial review challenge has concluded and that we now have positive lines of communication with the action group.”

Attempts were made to contact the operators of the plant.

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