Shadow Environment Secretary calls for investigation into Cambridgeshire MP over incinerator decision

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Steve Reed made the comments about Steve Barclay after a visit to Peterborough

Labour has called for an investigation into a Cambridgeshire MP’s possible involvement in the government’s decision to pause granting permits for new waste incinerators.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay has faced questions over his department’s directive to the Environment Agency to temporarily stop issuing environmental permits for waste incinerators as it’ll affect controversial plans in Wisbech, in his North West Cambridgeshire constituency.

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Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Shadow Environment Secretary Steve Reed said he has “concerns” that Mr Barclay “may have been abusing his position to try to drive up support for the Conservative Party in his constituency”.

Steve Reed (left) has called for an investigation into Steve Barclay (right)Steve Reed (left) has called for an investigation into Steve Barclay (right)
Steve Reed (left) has called for an investigation into Steve Barclay (right)
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“We’re calling for an investigation into who Steve Barclay may have been colluding with or lobbying to bypass the correct processes which involve the public who elect representatives to benefit himself,” he said.

Mr Barclay is recused from the decision, with minister Mark Spencer instead responsible, a spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told the LDRS.

The spokesperson added that the purpose of the temporary pause, lasting from 5th April and 24th May, is to ensure it’s supporting the government’s net zero ambitions as well as those around reducing waste and improving recycling rates.

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“We must make sure we have the right waste management infrastructure to meet these goals, and are rightly considering the need for more waste incineration facilities,” the spokesperson said.

The LDRS has not seen any evidence that Mr Barclay has been involved in any of the practices Mr Reed says should be investigated. Mr Barclay has also been contacted for comment.

Permission for the Wisbech incinerator, to be built on Algores Way near the A47, was granted by Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho in February.

The £300m proposal, brought by MVV Environment Ltd, faced opposition from local people, businesses and councils, including Cambridgeshire County Council and Fenland District Council.

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But developers say they’ll be a “good neighbour” and provide a valuable service, converting around half a million tonnes of non-recyclable waste into other forms of energy, such as electricity and steam, each year.

While the decision to grant the incinerator permission to be built can’t be appealed, Fenland council says it’s made an application for a judicial review which would see it combed through in court.

The temporary block on environmental permits also affects the plant.

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