VILLAGERS are taking their fight against a waste company to the High Court in an attempt to overturn a controversial planning decision.
King’s Cliffe resident Louise Bowen-West is leading a legal challenge against the Secretary of State’s decision to let Augean dump low-level radioactive waste at its site on the edge of the village. Solicitors have lodged the papers requesting an appeal and also applied for a Protective Costs Order which would limit the expenses incurred by the group if an appeal fails.
Mrs Bowen-West, of Park Street, said: “This is the first time we have had legal representation and it is encouraging to hear a solicitor say this is worth pursuing.
“We need to do some serious fundraising as our costs could be up to £30,000. It’s a big risk but this issue is so important, it’s a risk worth taking.”
The lawyers are Richard Buxton solicitors, of Cambridge, and barrister Sasha Blackmore, of Landmark Chambers in London. Their case will be based on a “narrow but significant point of law” about Augean’s intention to extend its operating licence from 2013 to 2026. This planning application is expected to be submitted shortly.
Campaigners must now wait to see if their Protective Costs Order is approved. If it is, Mrs Bowen-West would not have to pay liability costs if a Judicial Review failed. If the order is not granted, the group will be forced to give up their fight.
Mrs Bowen-West said: “It would probably be the end of the road as the liability costs if things didn’t go our way would be huge.”
In the meantime the campaigners are starting their fundraising. Details of how to help will be posted at www.kingscliffewastewatchers.co.uk
Augean spokesman Gene Wilson is feeling positive about the prospect of a review.
He said: “The decision of the Secretary of State was not made quickly or lightly. It followed the submission of the Planning Inspector’s recommendations informed by a rigorous three week Planning Inquiry where the application was the subject of intense and detailed scrutiny.
“The challenge relates to a narrow point of law and not the soundness of the technical or policy merits of the proposal.”