Stop Covanta Incinerator - No Environmental Permit

by Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator in Bedfordshire, England, United Kingdom

Stop Covanta Incinerator - No Environmental Permit
We did it
On 19th May 2018 we successfully raised £10,955 with 363 supporters in 42 days

Support BACI in legally challenging via Judicial Review - the Environmental permit for the Covanta Incinerator in Rookery South of Bedford

by Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator in Bedfordshire, England, United Kingdom

Urgent Update 14/05/18

BACI has been advised that the Claim papers are now back with our Solicitor ready to be served to The Environment Agency and Covanta.

Due to an issue with the Administrative Courts and postage, we no longer have the anticipated 7 days in order to serve the papers.

The solicitors need instructions on this by late 16th May in order for us to courier the papers to the opponents by 17th May.

The first fundraising target of £10,000 was reached and enabled the drawing up of the claim and the lodging with the courts.

The Second fundraising sub-target is £20,000 which now includes the costs that become applicable to the case at this serving stage and is urgently required now before we can instruct the Solicitors to proceed.

An additional around £4,500 has been collected through other methods.  These amounts do not appear on the Crowdfunder total displayed. See  for more details. We urgently need to secure the remainder of this sub-target in order to proceed further with the case. 

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

Despite record numbers of considered and relevant submissions against the Environmental Permit within two public consultations - the Environment Agency issued a permit for the massive Covanta Incinerator in the heart of the Forest of Marston Vale on 26th January 2018.

The Judicial Review process against the Environment Agency decision is now the only option open to us. We know that a lot of residents have been active in promoting the campaign for the last couple of years.  We hope that everyone will take the opportunity to pool resources and continue to support Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) in the continuing fight.

There could be costs of £50,000 in total which we need to address in separate Crowdfunder Projects:-

  • This Project - 1st stage - Permission and Court fees section £25,000 
  • Final - 2nd stage - Preparation for hearing and Court appearance by legal team £25,000

The BACI committee has spent the time since the issue of the permit revisiting evidence, talking with experts and putting together relevant arguments.  We believe that the Environment Agency has made various errors in its judgement in this case.

Although residents highlighted many issues with the Environment Agency's approach to the permitting process for Rookery Pit - our Barrister has identified several areas which are suitable for the Judicial Review Process.

The areas highlighted by the Barrister are:

  • The EA failed to challenge the incorrect chemistry evidence submitted by Covanta regarding the effect of water on heavy metal residues. Dissolved heavy metals would not be captured in the proposed ‘interceptors’ and would ultimately drain into Stewartby Lake
  • The EA and Covanta failed to –  and made no attempt to – gain meteorological data representative of conditions in Marston Vale. The EA accepted evidence from Covanta based on modelling that is not capable of taking into account Temperature Inversion events that would bring air-borne pollutants down to ground-level
  • The EA accepted Covanta’s calculations of the Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) emissions based on out-of-date EA guidance regarding Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) to Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) conversion rates
  • The EA failed to make Covanta take into account as human receptors the footpaths used by many thousands of visitors per year in the Millennium Country Park/Forest Centre – immediately adjacent to the Rookery site
  • In response to a Freedom of Information request – the EA confirmed that they had failed to request that Covanta carry out a Cost-Benefit analysis ignoring the EA’s own up to date guidance.
  • A supplementary letter was also sent regarding the accumulative effect of the emissions from the Millbrook Power Plant – also to be located at Rookery South – in addition to the emissions from the Covanta Incinerator.

We are aware that these areas may not correspond to the main issues that residents may find of most concern – but they have been highlighted by the Barrister as the areas that are suitable to issue proceedings under Judicial Review.

Under this process - we had 3 months after the date of issue of the Permit to start legal proceedings.

We have appointed a legal team to action the case.  This consists of a well-respected Barrister with environmental and planning background and one of the top Environmental Law Solicitor firms in the country.

The first inital stage of the process is a Pre-Action Protocol Letter outlining our concerns to the Environment Agency.  This letter was prepared and subsequently sent to the Environment Agency on 3rd April 2018.

Unfortunately - the process is not cheap.  The continuation of this stage will take us up to the Permission and court fees section.  We have been advised that this part of the case - taking into account work already completed and Crowdfunder fees etc - will need around £25,000 to complete.

The second stage is to prepare for the court appearance and then the appearance itself.  Due to the timings involved - this stage will be addressed using a second Crowdfunder project - and it is estimated that if this stage is required - this could cost another £25,000. 

It may not be necessary to take the case to the full court hearing stage.  The Environment Agency can concede at any point up to the actual court hearing.

Monies pledged will go into the separate BACI Bank Account which is controlled by the BACI Treasurer and a second signatory who are members of the BACI committee.

If there are any funds left over at any point of this Crowdfunder project or subsequent Crowdfunder projects for the purpose Judicial Review  - this will be used either in the wider campaign (if this is still existing) or another local project.

Progress so far

In order to begin proceedings –  it was necessary to appoint a firm of Solicitors.  With guidance from ELF – BACI appointed one the best-known Environmental Law firm of Solicitors in the country.

– 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 - 25/04/18

Current Stage - Papers have arrived back with our Solicitors 14/05/18 ready to be served to the Environment Agency and Covanta.  Current Fundraising Target is £20,000 in order for us to instruct the Solicitors to proceed. Deadline 16/05/18


This project is an entirely commercial venture - and despite all the opposition from Local Authorities and Residents - has permission to bring waste into the heart of The Forest of Marston Vale in Bedfordshire from far and wide - even from overseas.

Covanta has had the benefit of a Development Consent Order since 2011 - however - they are unable to operate any construction built as an Incinerator without the necessary Environmental Permit in place.

Public Concern

The first Environmental permit consultation attracted an unprecedented 2,000 submissions.

The second Environmental permit consultation attracted a record 1,313 submissions.

The Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) website  has received over 20,000 hits since launch in November 2016

The BACI petition aimed at the CEO of the Environment Agency and the SoS of DEFRA  has over 5,500 signatures 

The BACI facebook group has over 2,000 members 

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