Grant refusal 'an attempt to stop waste plant fight going to court'
CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans for a controversial waste plant in Sinfin say the city council is "trying to stop them going to court" over the development by refusing help to pay their legal fees.
The council has said it will not give Sinfin and Spondon Against Incineration (SSAIN) the £1,500 grant for which it applied to help fight the plans from waste firm RRS in the High Court.
The money would have come from a fund meant to help the Sinfin community.
But the authority, which has an agreement with RRS to deal with the city's waste, said it could be sued if it granted the cash.
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SSAIN chairman Simon Bacon said he had originally been told the £1,500 bid would be granted.
He said: "The council is obviously trying to restrict funding to the community group fighting against them.
"They want to stop us going to court. If the money is to help the community I don't see why it shouldn't be used to help the community fight an incinerator plan it doesn't want."
RRS was granted permission to build the plant in Sinfin Lane by a planning inspector last year.
But SSAIN and Friends of the Earth fear emissions from the plant will cause health problems for people living nearby.
Now Dorothy Skrytek, from Derby and South Derbyshire Friends of the Earth, is to challenge the inspector's ruling in the High Court, with SSAIN's help.
She is up against RRS, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles – because the inspector was acting on his behalf – and the city council which, along with Derbyshire County Council, has signed the agreement with RRS to deal with the county's household rubbish.
Miss Skrytek's lawyers have made an application for legal aid and a fund has been set up to raise cash for the challenge.
SSAIN also applied for the grant in question from the city council's Sinfin Neighbourhood Board.
Mr Bacon said the authority had previously granted SSAIN £1,000 for its work.
But council leader Paul Bayliss said that was before there was an active planning permission in place which made the agreement between RRS and the county's councils enforceable by law.
He said: "The first time the money was granted there wasn't a valid planning application in place. It's the same as giving someone money to sue yourself, which would be daft."
Mr Bayliss said the agreement with RRS meant that all those involved had to act in the best interests of the deal.
He said: "If that was breached, RRS would sue the county council as the lead authority (in the deal) and they, in turn, would sue us."
Mr Bayliss pointed that the current Labour administration was getting involved with the plant application "at the end of the process" as the original RRS agreement was signed prior to it coming into power in the city. He said: "I'd like to start with a clean piece of paper but I can't."
The plant would heat-treat rubbish, creating gas which would then burned to generate electricity.