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

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

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Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) started this petition to Rt Hon Michael Gove MP (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

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

NOVEMBER 2019 - BACI Appeal Dismissed by Court

Press Release 19/11/19
It is with great sadness that BACI must announce that the claim under Judicial Review to overturn the High Court ruling – and quash Covanta’s Rookery Pit Incinerator Environmental Permit – has been rejected by the Court of Appeal.

The judgment was handed down this afternoon (19th November 2019) following a full hearing at the Court of Appeal Royal Courts of Justice on 2nd July earlier this year.

BACI continues to contend that the Industrial Emissions Directive has not been upheld by the Environment Agency in the case of this permit – and it allows for a pathway of pollution that now will not be addressed.

Looking forward – BACI welcomes the forthcoming creation of the new Office of Environmental Protection under the recent Environment Bill. We hope that an independent agency which does not have a “Customer-type” revenue relationship and system with developers at stake – will be in a position to ensure the permitting regulatory system demands proper control over ALL potential pollution pathways – and enforces a meaningful violation system.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our many volunteers and donors who have made this Legal Challenge possible. We have refused to sit back and let circumstances dictate us. We can all be assured that we have done everything possible under the Judicial Review process.

It has been a true Community Campaign and show of “People Power” bringing together residents from Towns and villages in and around the Marston Vale – and I hope that residents will continue to be engaged in anyway possible. BACI will continue to keep residents informed about the Incinerator, Covanta and the Environment Agency. In addition we will be looking or further avenues to highlight the current permitting issue – and all the other wider concerns that residents have – about the huge impact this Incinerator will have on the Marston Vale and surrounds.

Nicola Ryan-Raine – Chair

BACI (Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator) was formed in 2016 to oppose the Covanta Incinerator at Rookery Pit South and has no political affiliations. For more details – please contact Nicola Ryan-Raine

Keep at to date with the Campaign with our various social media pages below or find more information at our website at:

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Join in the discussion on our facebook group at:
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JULY 2019 - Hearing Outcome – Reserved Judgement – Decision Pending

The Appeal Hearing took place Tuesday 2nd July at the Appeal Court – Royal Courts of Justice as the continuation of the Judicial Review case against the Environmental Permit issued to Covanta in 2018.

Following the Appeal Hearing the outcome was ‘Reserved Judgement’.  This means the 3 Appeal Judges took the option to retire and consider the evidence of the case before handing down Judgement.

There is no indication of the time-scale expected for Judgement to be handed down.  We understand this could take anywhere between a few weeks to –  in extreme cases – 6 months.  BACI’s original Judicial Review Claim at the High Court also returned ‘Reserved Judgement’ – and was then handed down around 3 weeks later.

In contrast to the High Court Hearing – the Appeal Hearing was available as a live stream direct from the Court on Tuesday.

The full 2 session videos of Tuesday's Hearing are now also available to view on the Courts archive page at

June 2019 - Appeal Hearing July 2nd 2019 at the Court of Appeal – Royal Courts of Justice London.

It is thanks to the community spirit of the residents in and around Marston Vale - that we have been able to fight the Environment Permit issued to Covanta for the Rookery Pit Incinerator to this stage - to be heard at one of the highest Courts in the UK .

With the generosity of the concerned residents we are nearing our fundraising target for this Community Action.

March 2019 - Appeal Hearing Date Scheduled

BACI has received notice that the Hearing Date has been set as floating dates of starting 2nd or 3rd July 2019.

March 2019 - Permission Granted

BACI has received the news that we had been granted permission to proceed to a full Appeal Hearing at the Court of Appeal - Royal Courts of Justice. The Judge states on the permission notice - "The Grounds of Appeal have a real prospect of success"

November 2018 - Appeal Lodged with Courts 

On 27th November - BACI Lodged the Appeal against the High Court Judgement with the Courts

November 2018 -  Appealing the Decision

The BACI Committee met on Thursday 15th November to discuss the possibility of proceeding with a challenge to the High Court Judgement at the Court of Appeals.

The Committee unanimously agreed that BACI should take the opportunity to proceed to the Court of Appeals.  This – of course – is dependant on the full and generous support of those who would be affected by Covanta’s plans.

The main points that the Committee considered were:

  • both our Barrister and Solicitor have stated that they believe there is merit in moving forward with the case.
  • the judgement contained elements that could be described as contradictory
  • the reliance on actual ‘precedents’ in the judgement was weak – as although 2 Appeals/Supreme Court judgements were cited – one relied on the other as precedent.
  • the main precedent claim in question was judged in 2003.  Our knowledge of the effects of pollution is growing every day – as is the amount of pollution we are subjected to.
  • the situation we find ourselves in is that the money already raised and spend on the High Court Case would effectively be lost unless we build on this opportunity to appeal  – with the added possibility of affecting future cases involving regulators such as the EA i.e creating precedent.
  • the impact of Covanta’s plans will have such a profound and destructive effect on the Marston Vale and surrounds for 35 – 40 years
  • the timings involved in a Court of Appeals case would allow ample time to fundraise for the hearing stage – which we are advised is likely to be as late as the end of 2019.  It was noted that the timings for the first step – which is the permission stage – is very tight.
  • at a recent Global Industrial Conference Covanta stated that the High Court Judicial Review had meant that they had put their plans for finalising the construction contracts and achieving financial close for the project on hold.

Appeal Court Costs

Some of the stages are similar to a Judicial Review Case – but the main costs involved in an Appeal Court Case occur at the beginning and end of the claim.

To Paper Permission Stage  –  £8,400

Estimate to Hearing Stage – £24,000

In order to move forward – it is essential that we are able to share the burden – as before – both collectively and financially.

We have very little time before instructing the Legal Team to continue with an Appeal.  We have up until the 27th November to officially lodge our submission - however - this does not include the time for our Legal Team to prepare the necessary documentation.

If you would support an Appeal - please can you indicate this by commenting - either on this petition, on the website - or on one of our social media accounts.

There is a discussion thread open on our facebook group at:  - or comment on any of the relevant posts on the following BACI pages:


November 2018 - Court Judgement 

It is with great disappointment that we must announce that the High Court Judge has ruled in favour of the Environment Agency and has dismissed BACI's claim to quash the Environmental Permit.

Obviously - we are very disappointed by the outcome but this campaign has shown the power of community - and has united residents from many different Towns and villages in and around the Marston Vale in a common cause.

We have up to 27th November to use our right to Appeal the decision and take the claim to the Court of Appeals.

In order to give residents the best possible opportunity to continue to fight this – we will be seeking legal advice regarding the viability of an Appeal against the decision. Our initial feelings are that the reasoning and judgment appears somewhat contradictory and there appears to be reliance on precedents set by other claims that need reviewing in the pollution threatened world we find ourselves in at the moment.

To view the full Press Release - please visit

The Full Judgment Document is also available on the above link


October 2018 - Court Hearing Update

Outcome of the Court Hearing at Royal Courts of Justice on 10th and 11th October - Reserved Judgement - Decision Pending.

Due to the technical nature of the Claim - the Judge is taking the option of more time to consider before announcing a decision.

For more details of the Court Hearing itself please visit

Includes: write-up of the events of the 2 Days, Photo Gallery and a video with more information regarding the basis of the claim 


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:

Keep at to date with the Campaign with our various social media pages.

Follow our facebook page at:
Join in the discussion on our facebook group at:
Follow our Twitter feed at:
View our Youtube Channel at:
Follow us on Instagram at: 


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.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!
At 7,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get a reaction from the decision maker!