The multinational insurance giant, Aviva, has been given until the end of this month to submit an environmental statement as part of its appeal against a decision that would see its controversial biomass gasification plant in Barry torn down.

Last September, the Vale of Glamorgan Council ruled the incinerator should be demolished after “a number of discrepancies” were found with its plans.

Aviva's solicitors, Ashurst, had wanted an extra five months beyond the original July 13 deadline to submit its long-awaited environmental statement (ES) on the facility.

The ES is required by Wales' new planning inspectorate, Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW), as part of Aviva's appeal against the Vale Council's enforcement action.

The National Wales: The Barry biomass plant with the town of Barry behind it. Photo: Ade PitmanThe Barry biomass plant with the town of Barry behind it. Photo: Ade Pitman

However PEDW has told The National it has has given the multinational three more weeks rather than the requested five months to comply: “The appellant has been given until the end of July to submit the environmental statement."

PEDW had already given Aviva an extension in April. 

The saga of the Barry incinerator has been unfolding since 2008, when the original plans to build the plant were refused by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

A subsequent public inquiry in 2010 saw that decision overturned and the council slapped with £80K costs by the original applicants, Sunrise Renewables Ltd

After that planning lapsed, a new application was made in 2015 by Aviva, who by then, were the new owners. The building work started in 2016 but was soon beset by a myriad of controversies. 

It also emerged that planning consent had been given without a statutory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) being carried out at the time - this is a means of systematically evaluating the potential impacts of a particular development on the environment. 

The troubled plant has never been fully operational. 

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The Docks Incinerator Action Group (DIAG) is a group which has been campaigning against the Barry plant since 2008. DIAG is concerned at how the case is being dealt with by PEDW.

The group claims the involvement of Deputy Chief Planning Officer, Anthony Thickett, is problematic due to a "conflict of interest" - something which PEDW refutes. 

Mr Thickett had acted as an inspector at the 2010 inquiry, when he ruled in favour of Sunrise Renewables Ltd's appeal against the Vale of Glamorgan Council's decision not to give planning permission. He also determined the Vale Council had to bear the entire cost burden for the proceedings.

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"PEDW has issues," Dennis Clarke, Vice-Chair of the Docks Incinerator Action Group, told The National.

"Mr Thickett acting as the Inspector at the related appeal in 2010 was led astray by the developers.

"PEDW and Mr Thickett now have the tricky decision to make as to the extent to which Mr Thickett should be involved to avoid one party or the other complaining later in the process."

However, PEDW insisted in a statement to The National: "The Deputy Chief Planning Inspector’s involvement in the current case has been purely procedural.”

Aviva has been approached for comment. 

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