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Protest group halted in legal action bid over incinerator
CAMPAIGNERS trying to stop a £165 million incinerator being built in Worcestershire have suffered a bitter blow - after shelving plans for a judicial review.
A group which has been trying to prevent the plant at Hartlebury going ahead has received long-awaited legal advice which warns against taking the authority to court.
The advice says if the court decided in Worcestershire County Council's favour, the campaigners would have had to pay unlimited costs.
Worcestershire against Landfill and Incineration, known as WAIL, were hoping that a 'cap' of £10,000 court costs would be set to allow them to proceed.
The advice means the group has scrapped plans to take it any further after trying for three years to get the controversial plant stopped.
As your Worcester News revealed in January, the incinerator has been voted through by the county council and work to construct it is about to start. Ray Kirby, WAIL chairman, said: "We've basically been told we've got no legs to run with it.
"The main issue we've got is that we can't cap the costs, so if we wanted to take it forward the potential liability, if we lost, could be anything.
"We were also told that while there may be grounds for a judicial review, if we went down that route it would not change the decision.
"We've got limited funds, so for us it was the last shake of the dice."
The parish council in Hartlebury had set aside £15,000 to meet any legal costs.
The news is a boost for the county council, but the battle with campaigners is not completely over.
A second protest body, known as Herefordshire and Worcestershire Action Group, is taking independent legal advice of its own and that process has yet to conclude.
The county council, which has handed the running of the plant to West Mercia Waste, says the incinerator will be in operation by 2017.
The plant will handle up to 200,000 tonnes of rubbish from Worcestershire and Herefordshire, burning it to generate electricity to connect to the national grid.
The construction will create 255 jobs, while 45 permanent roles will be available once it opens.
Councillor Anthony Blagg, the council's cabinet member for the environment, says the plant is "the best option" as landfill in Worcestershire is forecast to be full by 2024.
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