HALTON Council faces a hefty legal bill after losing a planning appeal against Ineos ChlorVinyls at a public inquiry.

The Runcorn chemical giant had been refused planning permission by the local authority to increase annual HGV deliveries to a new £452 million energy from waste incinerator in Weston Point from 85,000 tons to 480,000 tons.

Planning inspector Jennifer Vyse approved the appeal on March 5 because, she said, Ineos has 1,500 employees, there would be no harm in terms of highway capacity and the incinerator will divert waste from landfill, helping Halton reach its renewable energy targets.

She ruled the council should now foot Ineos’ legal bill as she believes the local authority behaved ‘unreasonably’ by not providing expert witnesses.

Pressure group Halton Action Group Against The Incinerator presented the case against Ineos at the inquiry in January.

A Halton Council spokesman said it was too early to comment on what the costs would be due to the legal process and figures suggested now are purely speculative.

They said: “The development control committee refused the application based on the representations made to it by the community, forcing a public inquiry as demanded by residents.

“Residents were given the opportunity to put the case against at the inquiry. Their case was not accepted.

“The committee’s case was put to the inspector in writing through the planning report. This case was also not accepted.

“Having due regard to the current planning law, the committee could have done no more to resist the application.

“The Runcorn community will be disappointed with the findings which do not reflect the wishes of local people.”