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CAMPAIGNERS who defeated plans for a waste transfer station on their doorstep have launched a legal bid to bring Bucks County Council (BCC) to account for wasted funds.
Neighbours in Amersham, Chalfont St Giles and Little Chalfont joined forces to fight the plans to create the site to cater for a £275million Calvert incinerator on London Road East and were thrilled when developer FCC Environment’s proposals were refused by BCC’s independent development control committee on July 31.
Now the Wasters campaign group has launched a legal claim against BCC for the £51,000 they contributed towards ‘ground exploratory work’ ahead of the planning application being heard.
Mal Jones, legal adviser for Wasters, said: “They’ve spent £71,000 [in total] on a ground survey, long before the planning application was heard. I put in a Freedom of Information request to see who was paying for it and they told me the cost was going to be shared between WRG (now FCC) and BCC.
“When I pushed to see what ‘sharing’ means, I was told two-thirds, £51,000, would be by Bucks, in essence the taxpayer. The report hasn’t even been published yet and we’re waiting on it.
“I’ll take this all the way if we have to, right up to the Audit Commission.”
Mr Jones added: “Since the [planning] result we’ve had a great response.
“I can’t buy a drink in the Ivy House [the pub opposite the council depot site] and people have come to my house and thanked me for our work.”
The group is now hoping to use the land for allotments instead.
Mr Jones said: “A neighbour who works for Kew [Gardens] has put forward the idea and I wrote to Nick Rose [Chiltern District leader], who said they were looking into it.”
BCC will continue with its joint district and county waste management strategy with just the approved High Heavens station at Booker serving the incinerator.
A spokesman for Buckinghamshire County Council said: "Part of the site includes a former landfill area and the Council, acting in its capacity as Waste Disposal Authority, was required to carry out ground condition surveys in relation to the potential lease with Chiltern District Council. The report was also required by the FCC Environment and it was therefore agreed the costs of the survey would be shared. The Council has contributed in the order of £50,000 towards the works. We are not aware of any legal action which has been made but will respond accordingly if a claim is made."