SMOKE and mirrors, and broken promises sum up the respective situations of the Rivenhall waste site and the nearby Coggeshall quarry/flood alleviation scheme.

In 2010, Gent Fairhead was given planning consent for an “integrated” waste facility at Rivenhall Airfield that would include recycling, anaerobic bio digestion (the processing of food waste), materials sorting and crucially, a paper recycling unit that would ensure that the site complies with Combined Heat & Power (CHP) status by using heat and electricity from the on-site incinerator.

Gent Fairhead, which still has a stake in part of the site, has recently stated at site liaison meetings that the paper recycling unit is “commercially not viable” and will not be built.

The planning permission has now been passed on to incinerator builders Indaver, who recently told the site liaison group that by 2025 it will not commit to build anything other than the waste incinerator and the shell of the overall building.
There is now a long planning saga for this site of repeated changes, deadlines extended and what many see as ‘planning creep’.

Indaver, as reported in last week’s Times, has started the groundwork for the incinerator, but planning permission was given for the whole facility – something that Essex County Council (ECC) has recently confirmed.

The waste incinerator would be capable of burning nearly 600,000 tonnes of waste per annum and that will emit approximately the same tonnage of CO2.
Given the Government is committed to net zero emissions by 2050, the incinerator flies in the face of the climate change emergency.

We believe that ECC as the planning authority should require a completely new planning application.

As well as the incinerator and other major developments being lined up near local villages, the Environment Agency (EA) is gearing up alongside a quarry operator to submit plans for what they describe as a Flood Alleviation Scheme. It would involve a concrete dam across the River Blackwater valley paid for from the profits of a 400-acre quarry on the outskirts of Coggeshall.

The EA had promised to hold public drop-in sessions in Coggeshall and Feering.

The chairman of the EA wrote to us in July 2020 offering to personally attend a local meeting or to send a director and would do so “once we are ready to submit the (planning) application”.

The planning application for the quarry and dam is now imminent, but the EA has declined to host public meetings, whereas Highways England is holding six public meetings on the A12 despite Covid restrictions (which are set to be lifted on July 19th).

We reiterate our request to the EA to honour its commitment to meet with local residents on this major scheme before any further steps are taken.

District councillors Nick Unsworth and Tom Walsh, Coggeshall