Derby campaigner Dorothy Skrytek to take on Eric Pickles over waste plan
AN environment campaigner is to take on a Government minister in a last-gasp court bid to halt a controversial city waste plant.
Dorothy Skrytek, who once set up home on the roof of Derby’s old bus station in a bid to stop it being demolished, will go head-to-head with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in a David and Goliath battle.
She is the figurehead of a High Court attempt by environmentalists to stop a controversial gasification complex planned to treat Derbyshire’s waste.
Miss Skrytek, from Derby & South Derbyshire Friends of the Earth, and protest group Sinfin and Spondon Against Incineration (SSAIN) have battled the plant plans since they were first announced in 2008. They fear emissions would cause health problems for people living nearby.
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Miss Skrytek, 51, won fame in January 2006 when she protested against the city’s new bus station by living in her caravan on the old site’s roof for three-and-a-half months. Now she is taking on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Mr Pickles, Derby City Council, and the firm behind the waste plant, Resource Recovery Solutions (RRS).
At a High Court hearing in Manchester on Friday, March 15, Miss Skrytek will challenge RRS’s permission to build.
Mr Pickles is involved because the latest decision to give the plant the green light was made by a planning inspector on his behalf.
Battling Miss Skrytek, of Normanton, said she was “looking forward to the challenge”. She said: “I think we stand a good chance because the law is on our side.
“This is the biggest campaign I’ve been involved with because it cuts across so many areas – emissions, traffic, climate change.
“It’s a difficult thing to get ready for but it’s become second nature as I’ve attended two inquiries and a court hearing on the subject already.”
SSAIN chairman Simon Bacon “It’s a David and Goliath battle – members of the public against big business and Eric Pickles. I’m proud to be a part of it and to continue the battle. No retreat, no surrender is our policy.”
Miss Skrytek said her lawyers had made an application for legal aid but had not yet heard back.
She said that, in the meantime, a fund had been set up to raise cash to help pay for legal representation at the hearing, which had already attracted donations.
The city and county councils entered into an agreement with RRS in 2009 to deal with the county’s waste for 27 years.
The waste treatment plant in Sinfin Lane was intended to be a central part of this work, dealing with 200,000 tonnes of the county’s household waste a year.
It would heat-treat the rubbish, creating gas which is then burned to generate electricity.
RRS’s plans were originally rejected by the city council’s planning committee as councillors feared environmental damage and traffic problems.
But the company challenged the rejection and was successful in getting it overturned on the grounds that the original inspector had failed to properly take certain important documents into account. In September 2012, another planning inspector gave the plant the go-ahead.
The United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) has been giving Miss Skrytek legal support. Its national co-ordinator, Shlomo Dowen, CRRCT said: “The important question is whether the proposed incinerator is a recovery facility, in that it is a valuable source of electricity, or it essentially a site for waste disposal, like a landfill site?”
A spokesperson for RRS said: “We are aware of the legal challenge and will review it and comment in due course.”
City council leader Paul Bayliss, who has said the authority had no option but to press ahead with the contract for the plant because the council would be sued if it reneged, said: “We will have to wait and see what the judgement is.”