April 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Officials raise concerns about Steve Barclay's role in municipal waste project

Officials raise concerns about Steve Barclay's role in municipal waste project
  • Written by Chris Mason and Henry Zifman
  • BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

Officials have raised concerns about the Environment Minister's role in a proposed waste incinerator in his constituency, the BBC can reveal.

Steve Barclay will have no say in the project planned for his Cambridgeshire seat, which he opposes.

Officials escalated the matter to the Ethics Unit of the Cabinet Office, which discussed the matter with him.

His department says Mark Spencer, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, will make the decision.

The BBC has learned that officials have raised concerns about a possible conflict between his constituency and ministerial roles.

MVV Environment, a German energy company, wants to build the plant in Wisbeck, which is in Barclay's North East Cambridgeshire constituency.

It will be one of the largest waste-to-energy incinerators in Europe, burning non-recyclable waste in order to generate energy for local industrial use.

The scheme is opposed by several local MPs, including former Prime Minister Liz Truss, and five neighboring councils, with campaigners raising concerns about increased lorry traffic, air pollution, visual impact and odor.

Initial proposals for the scheme were first submitted to the government in December 2019.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero gave the plant the green light last month, following a recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate.

But to go ahead, the scheme also requires a permit from the Environment Agency, a public body sponsored by Berkeley's Department of Environment.

'Bad News'

As a local MP, Mr Barclay has long been an outspoken opponent of the Holocaust.

After the Energy Security Administration gave its approval, Barclay told a local newspaper that the decision was “bad news for our region.”

He pledged to “continue to do everything possible to fight” the incinerator being built.

Barclay is one of the government's most experienced ministers. He has only served as Environment Secretary since November, but has also held ministerial posts under Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Labor wrote to Barclay saying the story “raises serious issues, potentially involving a breach of the ministerial code”.

In the letter, Shadow Environment Secretary Steve Reid asked Barclay to publish any correspondence between him and the Environment Agency regarding the Holocaust.

A government spokesman said: “The Foreign Minister was excluded from the decision.

“No decision has been made. Mark Spencer is the responsible minister and will take any decision on this issue.”