DAY two of a legal challenge against a council decision to approve a waste to energy incinerator for Keighley saw the barrister for the applicant defending the decision making process.

Philip Coppel QC, acting on behalf of Endless Energy Ltd, told the judicial review hearing in Leeds today (Jan 16) that contrary to the argument made by the development's opponents, Bradford Council's planning officers had properly balanced the anticipated harm of the waste to energy burner against the public benefits it would bring.

He added council officers paid close attention to the impact the development would have on nearby East Riddlesden Hall, and showed a comprehensive understanding of the relevant section of the Listed Buildings Act.

"It's obvious the planning officer did not simply parrot the legislation but showed an understanding of it," he said.

"There's nothing to show that the officer ignored the legislation.

"The recurrent theme in the planning officer's report on this application is that special regard has to be paid to heritage assets. Time and time again that principle is restated."

Turning to the claimant's case that Bradford Council did not take into account advice from environmental consultants about the damage the incinerator may cause to Rombalds Moor, he drew a distinction between two separate reports which returned different findings.

He said an earlier report on the application site next to the Aire Valley Bypass by consultants from Environ, formed part of Bradford's waste management District Plan Document and used data based on a completely hypothetical waste to energy plant.

The results from this report warned of high levels of acidification on Rombalds Moor resulting from the development of a waste to energy plant.

But Mr Coppel said a second, later report on Endless Energy's actual application by Ricardo Energy & Environment recorded lower noxious emissions from the proposed facility and no measurable impact from acidification.

He said the fact Natural England agreed with both reports was not inconsistent.

"The claimant has said Bradford Council received conflicting information from Natural England, but they are comparing apples with pears," he said.

"There was no internal conflict within Natural England once they had this planning application before them."

Barrister Duncan Sinclair was representing campaign group Aire Valley Against Incineration (AVAI), which had called for the judicial review after Bradford Council approved Endless Energy's latest application for the site last year.

Responding today, he said even the Ricardo report's findings on potential for acidification of Rombalds Moor should have given Bradford Council grounds for scientific doubt and the need to ask further questions.

And he said a lack of specific reference to fears about Rombalds Moor within the written, public objections to the waste to energy incinerator should not have stopped the council from treating this as a serious, controversial issue.

"It is an obligation falling on Bradford Council, regardless of whether the public has raised objections about this particular issue," he said.

"Whether or not the public has brought the matter up is entirely irrelevant.

"Otherwise it's rather like saying that the law on equal pay doesn't apply unless someone makes a complaint."

Following five hours worth of submissions yesterday, today's stage of the hearing concluded after a little over two hours.

Mr Justice Timothy Kerr, who was presiding over the judicial review, has not yet announced his decision.

Speaking after the hearing had finished early this afternoon, AVAI members said they expected his judgement to be made public in two or three weeks time.