No Environmental Permit for Covanta Incinerator in Rookery South Pit, Bedfordshire

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Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) (fb: residentsagainstcovanta).

October 2018 - Judicial Review Update 

Hearing Dates set for 10th - 11th October at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Final Fundraising Target set at £51,500

Please see for updates on progress towards targets

Please more information regarding the Judicial Review Process at:

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May 2018 - Judicial Review Update

Progress so far:

– Pre-Action Protocol Letter sent (incl supplementary letter)
– Reply from the EA received
– Responses from the EA analysed by the legal team
– Preparation of papers and lodging with the Courts

Current Stage – Awaiting papers back from the courts to Serve to the EA and Covanta

Fundraising Update 

We are now able to accept pledges via Paypal, Credit/Debit Card and BACS in addition to the Crowdfunder Page - please visit for more information


Update - April 2018 

Please help us raise the necessary funds to challenge the Environmental Permit for the Covanta Incinerator in Bedfordshire via the Judicial Review Process. 

Despite thousands of residents and interested parties submitting considered and relevant environmental concerns and over 5,000 signatures asking the Secretary of State for Defra to launch an enquiry into this situation  – the Environment Agency choose to issue Covanta with an Environmental Permit to operate a massive Incinerator at Rookery Pit South on 26th January 2018. 

Since the announcement the BACI committee has been putting together evidence towards the only option left open to us of a Judicial Review against the Environment Agency.  This evidence was categorised under the following three headings: 

  •  Illegality
  • serious procedural defects in the decision making
  • irrationality 

With the help of the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) we sought the guidance of a Barrister with environment and planning background - to establish if there was enough evidence that would be suitable for grounds for a Judicial Review. 

The Barrister appraised the evidence and spoke with experts and highlighted 4 areas that were suitable at this stage. 

BACI instructed a law firm with environmental law credentials and the services of the Barrister to begin the first stage towards Judicial Review which is a Pre-Action Protocol Letter. 

The letter was sent to the EA on 3rd April and they have 14 days to reply.  Please see the BACI website for more details 

Although we have made moves regarding a Judicial Review - we still would welcome the Secretary of State to launch his own enquiry into this case... or at least answer our concerns. 


Original Petition Wording

The incinerator is opposed by the local community. It was not approved by the local council and does not form part of their waste management plans  - instead it was approved by the now defunct Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) at National level.

The incinerator will have local and regional impacts on the environment – namely increasing air pollution, noise and dust, increasing greenhouse gases and detracting from sustainable forms of waste management. Eunomia’s Residual Waste Infrastructure Review (12th Issue) suggests there are already too many incinerators built or being built in the UK.

As such we (as individuals and as part of Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) (fb: residentsagainstcovanta) oppose the granting of an environmental permit.

The Environment Agency’s review of environmental issues is far too narrow:

  • It refuses to take into account the 594 movements of HGVs per day which will be queuing outside a local school creating NOx, particulates and dust.
  • It does not consider the “temperature inversion” events in Marston Vale that create smog locally - as experienced by residents in the past.
  • It does not consider how dirty the electricity output from the incinerator will be compared with a much cleaner grid. The recent Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health (published 19/10/17) does not recognise Energy from Waste as a source of non-polluting energy.
  • It considers the previous operating record of Covanta Energy and various associated Companies to be of no significance.
  • It does not take into account the environmental impact of the plant on recycling efforts. It has not limited waste codes in the draft permit in order to ensure 'residual' only waste is incinerated and other items such as recyclable plastic is dealt with further up the waste hierarchy.
  • It has not required the applicant to employ techniques and processes that have the most environmental and efficiency benefits e.g heat export, transport via rail and Nitrogen Oxides abatement system.
  1.  It is 'content' to accept Covanta's appraisal that the location of the Incinerator makes heat export financially unrealistic due to rail lines, rivers and roads in the way.  This is in total contrast to Covanta's original statement of commitment to the IPC regarding CHP.  The development consent order was issued for the same 'problem' location but under the impression that heat export was inevitable.
  2. It is 'content' to accept Covanta's appraisal that despite the location in between two rail lines - transport of waste by rail is economically unviable.  These Rail lines surrounding the chosen location have been highlighted as a main reason not to export heat. 

We do not consider the response that “these issues were dealt with at the planning stage” to be adequate.

Much has changed since planning was originally considered in 2011.

There is no longer a National requirement for an incinerator of this size and type for either waste disposal or for energy production. The local area is now much more sensitive to environmental impacts than when the brickworks were still operating as it is now regenerating with new green infrastructure after decades of industrial activity. It is not right that local people have practically no say in how this huge facility would impact on their environment for up to 40 years.

We do not believe that the Environment Agency consulted sufficiently on their draft permit decision.

  • They have issued limited public guidance regarding the process and procedures.
  • Their one consultation event on 20/09/17 was not properly advertised - nor sufficiently staffed with technical personnel.
  • They failed to provide sufficient information or support to allow an effective analysis of the technical information provided by Covanta.
  • We do not know for sure what waste will be allowed in, in what mixtures or how it will be verified and monitored.
  • The ability to monitor and enforce any breaches in the permit in particular raises concerns.

We question whether they have the resources for the job. In short they have not inspired confidence that their decision is the right one.

In addition - we (as individuals and as part of Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) (fb: residentsagainstcovanta) petition the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to launch an official enquiry into the process by which the EA has come to its conclusions, its interpretation of the IPC's intent and how this Incinerator will meet the Government's Clean Growth Strategy and recycling aspirations.  We contend that the time elapsed since 2011 has negated the vital cohesion between Government Strategy, the planning process and the environmental considerations.

Each one of us signing this petition wishes our objections to be treated as a formal individual response to the consultation and confirmation of our request for an enquiry as stated above - in addition to any response or communication we may have sent (or will send) by other means.

Today: Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) is counting on you

Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) needs your help with “No Environmental Permit for Covanta Incinerator in Rookery South Pit, Bedfordshire Petitioning Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs”. Join Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) and 5,797 supporters today.