WITHAM MP Priti Patel has urged campaigners battling against Rivenhall Airfield’s waste plant plans to focus on its environmental licence after being criticised over her activity.
In February, Essex County Council approved revised plans to build a facility, including a heat and power plant, a recycling plant, an anaerobic digester, a mechanical biological treatment plant, a pulp plant and a waste water treatment centre at Rivenhall Airfield.
The variation will allow applicant Gent Fairhead to burn more waste and extract more water from the River Blackwater.
Now residents from 14 towns and parishes – Parishes Against Incinerator –have called on Ms Patel to represent them, claiming she has not supported them.
Green councillor James Abbott said: “The feeling is that whilst Priti Patel says she will represent constituents – and has obtained information for them – she appears unable to take a position to represent local views.
“Communities have been repeatedly ignored by ECC in particular, so why did Priti Patel not call them to account over what happened earlier this year when they rubber-stamped a huge increase in the size of the incinerator and a big decrease in recycling claiming a variation on the plans?”
However Ms Patel said she had long campaigned against the plant and said focus should be on an application for an environmental permit, which must be granted by the Environment Agency before it can operate.
She said: “The waste incinerator at Rivenhall was granted planning permission in 2010 before I was elected.
“At the time I referred to the decision as being an act of environmental vandalism and continue to share the anger, disgust and frustration that residents feel. I have consistently supported residents and have made many representations on behalf of residents opposing the site, questioning decisions and highlighting the devastating impact the incinerator will have.”
Ms Patel said Mr Abbott was playing “political games”.
She added: “He should be focusing on the issues associated with the current licence application and other ways to campaign against the incinerator rather than misleading people.”
The Environment Agency confirmed a bid for the environmental permit was made on November 17 last year and was being considered.
Gent Fairhead was unavailable for comment.