Saturday, 25th October 2014

Council chiefs accused of bias

Campaigners have accused council waste chiefs of bias after they allegedly sent out letters with leaflets promoting the £60 million Battlefield incinerator.

Around 7,500 leaflets produced by Veolia Environmental Services are being distributed to homes in a three-mile radius of the proposed incinerator site as part of a consultation process. But members of Safe Waste in Shropshire have claimed a number of the leaflets were accompanied by letters from Shropshire Council detailing the application.

They have accused council officers of not being impartial over the controversial application, while also claiming a number of homes in the area are yet to receive either the Veolia leaflet or the council notification.

But both Veolia – which is applying to build the energy from waste facility as part of a 27-year waste contract – and Shropshire Council officials have insisted the distribution of the paperwork was not jointly co-ordinated.

The Veolia leaflets were distributed in bulk to addresses in the area by Royal Mail staff, although it is believed a second batch is yet to be sent out.

Miriam Walton, of Safe Waste in Shropshire, said: “The letter is from the planning department at Shropshire Council and is a precis of Veolia’s leaflet. We are very concerned about this as the council seems to be piggy-backing on Veolia’s leaflet when they are supposed to be acting impartially. It’s no wonder people are cynical about this process.” 

Catherine Slaytor, for Veolia, said: “We did not send out the leaflets with the council papers. We gave Royal Mail the leaflets and they sent them to the addresses. We have no control over what is delivered when.”

A Shropshire Council spokesman said: “As part of the consultation process, the council has advertised the proposals on site and in the press, as well as sending letters to approximately 1,200 properties in the vicinity of the site. Veolia has taken it upon itself to give additional publicity to the proposed development by the distribution of leaflets in the local area. This was completely separate from the processes being undertaken by Shropshire Council.” 

See also pages 8 & 9 of the Shrewsbury Chronicle, April 16, 2009.