Kings Cliffe tip campaigners lose battle in High Court

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CAMPAIGNERS are disappointed after losing a legal battle to stop low-level radioactive waste from being dumped in their village.

Kings Cliffe Waste Watchers took their fight to stop Augean from dumping the waste at its East Northants Resource Management Facility in Stamford Road, Kings Cliffe, to London’s High Court.

But on Thursday (3 November) Deputy Judge QC Stewart upheld a decision in May by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles to allow waste to be dumped there.

Waste Watchers have been fighting Augean’s application for two years and members of the group said they were stunned by the decision.

Louise Bowen-West, who brought the case to the High Court on behalf of the residents, said: “I am very disappointed by the decision and we have not been given leave to appeal.

“We will be talking to our solicitors and barrister about the next steps we can take.”

Mrs Bowen-West said the solicitors were confident Waste Watchers had a strong case.

She added: “This is not the end of the road for us.”

Clare Langan, also a member of the group, said Waste Watchers would be meeting with solicitor Richard Buxton, a Cambridge-based specialist in environmental work, to discuss their options.

She said: “I am upset and disappointed and I think everyone in Kings Cliffe will be.”

More than 50 campaigners from Waste Watchers travelled to the High Court on Wednesday for the hearing but weren’t in court yesterday for the decision.

Mr Buxton said: “This is a very common decision in this type of case so although it is disappointing, it is not surprising.” He said he would be discussing with Waste Watchers whether an appeal to the London Court of Appeal was appropriate.

East Northamptonshire MP Louise Mensch (Con) said she would wait to hear from the campaigners before progressing a planned meeting with Government ministers, which has previously been delayed because of the High Court battle.

She said: “I hope to have that meeting to be able to put in place some additional and robust monitoring on the site to give my constituents some comfort that we are actively monitoring the levels of radioactive waste.

“I am going to be guided by my constituents as to what their next steps will be because the appeal process is very expensive.”

Augean has agreed not to dump low-level radioactive waste at the site for four weeks to give the campaigners a chance to appeal.

Augean said in a statement: “It is reassuring that the integrity of the environmental impact assessment and its scope has been reaffirmed. The challenge was made on a narrow point of law and did not relate to the safety or the policy merits of the proposal.

“Augean will continue to work with the nuclear decommissioning market to deliver this nationally significant project.”

Augean’s planning application was refused by Northamptonshire County Council in March, following a protest.

Mr Pickles overturned that decision to refuse permission to use half the site for hazardous waste until 2013 in May, meaning rubble from dismantled nuclear sites like power plants and hospitals can be treated at the site.

Under its current permission, Augean is only allowed to dump waste at the site until autumn 2013 so planning applications have also been submitted to use the site until 2026. These have not yet been decided.