This week's MP's column comes from Keighley Conservative MP Robbie Moore

AS we enter the final stages of the Environment Agency’s consultation to determine whether to issue an environmental permit for the proposed incinerator at Marley, it is important now more than ever that people make their views heard.

I am completely opposed to the incinerator and I do believe that if approved there could be dire and lasting consequences for our area.

It is incredibly frustrating that Bradford Council granted planning permission for this development back in 2015.

It is clear that Bradford Council seem to have little regard for residents in our area and it has become clear that not only is our Keighley and Ilkley constituency being utilised as a cash cow for Bradford Council’s city centre vanity projects, it is also seen by Bradford as the place to situate an undesirable project.

It is difficult to see the logic behind building a waste incinerator at the bottom of a very prominent valley with the topography such as ours, on the edge of a very busy and densely populated town and within 300 metres of a nursery school. 

I am therefore writing a joint submission in response to the Environment Agency’s consultation with my colleague Philip Davies MP for Shipley. Much of Philip’s constituency will also be affected should this project get the green light.

There are four main areas to this proposal which need to be properly scrutinised during this consultation; emissions, topography, odour, and the consultation process.

Building an incinerator at the bottom of a valley poses its own challenges.

The topography of the wider area beyond the proposed site needs properly assessing before an environmental permit should even be considered. Ilkley Moor is only four miles away from the proposed site.

The negative implications associated with the incinerator being situated at the bottom of a valley with homes, sports fields and schools in close proximity also needs to be taken into consideration. I have concerns for the residents who live in Riddlesden, East Morton, Thwaites Brow and Long Lee who are all in very close proximity to the proposed site and whose homes are situated higher than the proposed incinerator.

A major factor to the incinerator which I often find is drowned out by other damning details is the odour that this site could emit.

The smell of rotting garbage is not a pleasant smell and something which gets trapped in your nostrils for a considerable time. 

And finally, it is important to note how this consultation has been carried out.

I have been very frustrated with how the Environment Agency has conducted the consultation.

Very little warning or indication was given by the agency of their decision. In fact, as the MP for the area, I was only given a matter of hours’ notice by the Environment Agency of their ‘minded to approve’ decision before the consultation was due to be launched, and I was told that it was to be an online consultation only. I immediately wrote to their Chief Executive, Sir James Bevan, urging him to postpone the consultation and asked that when it is made live, it should be accessible for those who do not have internet access.

Whilst the consultation was initially postponed by five days, a further delay to the whole process was not considered.

I firmly believe that it is neither right nor fair for a major consultation to be carried out during a worldwide pandemic, knowing full well that residents and campaign groups cannot fully engage with the consultation process. Especially when the Government’s own Environment Department has postponed other consultations due to Covid.

With only a matter of days left until the consultation closing, I cannot stress enough the need for the Environment Agency to refuse the environmental permit for this development and would urge everyone to get involved and respond before Wednesday, August 12.