Controversial plans to build an incinerator near to two schools have been thrown out by Calderdale Council.
Protesters – who have argued for months against two sets of plans for sites at the Belmont Recycling Centre on Rochdale Road and another location at Mearclough Road – turned out at Halifax town hall ahead of a planning meeting last night.
Campaigners were concerned about health risks from incinerator emissions and the proximity of the sites to Bolton Brow Academy and Sacred Heart Primary School.
The plans were submitted by Calder Valley Skip Hire and it is understood the firm intends to appeal the decision.
Resident Adrian Mitchell said: "For the community this is a massive result, this has pulled a whole community together and is testament to every single individual within Sowerby Bridge"
Holly Lynch MP presented a petition to Parliament in the House of Commons opposing incinerators in Sowerby Bridge as the decision was being made in Halifax Town Hall.
She also sent a detailed statement to the planning committee which was read out at the start of the meeting.
She said said: “I am extremely concerned about the effects any increase in air pollution would have in the steep-sided valley, which is already polluted.
“This is a huge decision for Sowerby Bridge and the surrounding area and I would like to thank the members on the planning committee for taking all of the community’s concerns on board.”
Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker said: "These applications created genuine concern in the local community and I share the relief that will be felt by all local residents now that the applications have been unanimously rejected by the Council’s Planning Committee.
"Locating an incinerator in the bottom of the Ryburn Valley would have had a devastating impact upon the amenity of the local area and could have created very serious health implications for local residents.
"This application was entirely inappropriate and I commend the way in which the local community, Local Councillors, and both MPs have all worked together to ensure that these plans were rejected.
"I will continue to work closely with the Benbow Group and all local residents to monitor the situation depending upon the steps that the developers now take following this decision."
Sowerby Bridge councillor Dot Foster addressed the meeting to oppose the plans.
She said: “Understandably, schools and families up and down the valley have been extremely concerned about the damaging effects an incinerator would have on public health. I am over the moon that committee members have listened to our concerns.”
Adam Wilkinson, also a Sowerby Bridge councillor, said: “I am delighted that common sense has prevailed. It goes to show what we can achieve as a community when everyone pulls together.
“We must continue the fight though as I am sure the applicant will appeal and there is a further application at the Mearclough site in Sowerby Bridge to consider.”
Coun Mike Payne said: "It's fantastic - what a great Christmas present for Sowerby Bridge.
"We've won the battle but we haven't yet won the war. We have been fighting this for years but it is nice to have some respite.
"Working across political party lines is why we won it. Because it was really teamwork, with councillors and members of the public, people demonstrating and the action groups in Sowerby Bridge. It does show you what a community can do if it works together."
Calder Skip Hire has been contacted for comment following the meeting.
Prior to the decision the firm's managing director Joe Sawrij said the “family owned business” proposed would be small scale and would incinerate waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill, adding it would “not give rise to any visible emissions”.
Its emissions, he said, had been “demonstrated to have a negligible impact at local level in terms of air quality and health”.
He added: “The site has been designed such that it has no visual impact and will not create any noise disturbance.
“All heat from the process will be recovered to create electricity, with all residual heat being used within the wider site processes, thus reducing the overall environmental impacts of the company’s operations.
“This project is necessary to assist the company in reaching its sustainability and recovery targets of zero wastes to landfill."