In Parliamentary Questions to Communities and Local Government Ministers, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper challenged the government’s commitment to localism in practice having granted permission for Whitemoss landfill site in the face of enormous local opposition.

In mid-May the Communities Secretary, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, granted permission to allow 20 more years of hazardous waste-dumping at the Skelmersdale site. In doing so he ignored the voices of thousands of local residents who had signed petitions and taken to the streets in a protest march, the previous planning refusals and objections of Lancashire County Council and West Lancashire Borough, and the opposition of the Member of Parliament.

MP Rosie challenged the Planning Minister, Brandon Lewis MP on how he could justify his claims his government supported localism given their rejection of such strong local opposition to any further extensions to the size and lifetime of the Whitemoss landfill site.

MP Rosie said:
“In recent weeks the Communities Secretary has announced that local residents will have the final say on wind farm applications in their areas.

“As we have seen with Whitemoss and other planning matters whilst this government talks about the importance of localism and residents having a say in practice they ignore it when it doesn’t suit them.

“It is a disgrace that the Communities Secretary chose to ignore residents and their elected representatives’ opposition to the plans.

“This highlights the double standards of this Conservative government.

“As we are within the six-week window for a judicial review submission which could change the decision the Minister hid behind this to avoid answering to why he had failed the residents of West Lancashire.”

11. Rosie Cooper (West Lancashire) (Lab): What steps his Department is taking to ensure that localism is prioritised in the decision-making process for nationally significant infrastructure projects. [900606]

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Brandon Lewis): The nationally significant infrastructure planning system strikes a fair and effective balance between two important needs: the national need for infrastructure to underpin growth and sustainability, and the need to address community concerns and maximise local benefits from investment.

Rosie Cooper: I thank the Minister for that non-answer. I would like him to explain to the residents of West Lancashire why, despite the Government’s claim to support localism in the planning process, permission was granted to dump hazardous waste for 20 more years at Whitemoss landfill, for which there was no demonstrable need, either local or regional, and which was opposed by thousands of local residents, the borough council, the county council and me as the local MP. Surely this means-

Brandon Lewis: Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I thank the hon. Lady for her gracious comments. As she probably realises, that planning application is still within the six-week period during which a decision can be challenged. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on a specific scheme, owing to the quasi-judicial nature of planning.


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