Historic Denny Abbey plays a part in scuppering Amey’s proposals for a £200m energy from waste plant at Waterbeach

Visualisation produced by Amey showing how their energy from waste incinerator would have looked at

Visualisation produced by Amey showing how their energy from waste incinerator would have looked at Waterbeach. However their appeal against the refusal by the county cuncil has been dismissed by the Government. Picture; AMEY - Credit: Archant

Historic Denny Abbey and Cottenham conservation area helped scupper a £200m waste from energy plant at Waterbeach.

The Government cited potential harm to “heritage assets” for dismissing Amey’s appeal against the refusal of planning permission by Cambridgeshire County Council that would have seen up to 250,000 tonnes of residual waste treated annually.

In a ruling released this week Secretary of State Robert Jenrick says he attributes “substantial weight” to the harm that could be caused to the abbey, the Grade 1 listed refectory and the Grade 11 listed 17th century barn as well at the conservation area of Cottenham.

“The Secretary of State has paid special regard to the desirability of preserving those listed buildings potentially affected by the proposals, or their settings or any features of special architectural or historic interest which they may possess,” says the inquiry report.

“In terms of visual impact ... the Secretary of State considers the proposals would have a harmful effect on the visual amenity of the area, with impacts ranging between moderate and substantial significance.”

The minister said he agreed with the inspector that there is “some doubt” about the extent to which the proposed plant would help to reduce carbon emissions compared with alternative means of dealing with waste and other ways of generating the same amount of energy

He also noted that the county’s emerging minerals and waste local plan shows Cambridgeshire “has on the whole sufficient capacity to manage the forecast waste arising”.

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The Government agreed that the proposal would help meet an identified need in Cambridgeshire as it would allow more waste to be managed further up the waste hierarchy and would reduce waste sent to landfill.

However, the minister felt there was only limited benefit to having the plant next to the existing mechanical biological treatment plant at Waterbeach Waste Management Park.

And he also agreed with the inquiry inspector that “there is potential for a significant tonnage of waste to be transported long distances, which would be at odds with the application of the proximity principle”.

The minister “considers that the appeal scheme is not in accordance with policies in the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan in relation to key objectives to protect the character of South Cambridgeshire, including built and natural heritage,” says the appeal findings.

It would also be in conflict with “landscape and character policy, historic environment policy, design policy and renewable and low carbon policy”.

Amey had offered “a unique opportunity for a one-stop waste processing and recycling shop”.

They claimed too it would help the county increase its recycling rates, ”that are currently declining and reduce landfill whilst saving the county money and boosting its environmental credentials”.