CONTROVERSIAL plans to open a waste transfer and treatment facility in Widnes have been put back to square one by a High Court judge.

Waste giants Veolia ES UK Ltd have their eyes on a site off Pickering's Road, formerly used by a demolition contractor and scrap metal company.

It has been empty for more than a year and Veolia wants to build a plant on the site capable of processing up to 85,000 tonnes of waste annually.

Halton Borough Council granted planning permission for a change of the site's use in January - but now Mrs Justice Lieven has overturned that decision.

Councillors, she said, did not have all the information they needed to make up their own minds about Veolia’s proposal.

The ruling was a stunning victory for Hale Bank Parish Council, which says the development will send well over 100 heavy lorries through a residential area daily.

The site had been earmarked for a waste treatment facility at Halebank Industrial Estate off Pickerings Road.

That includes more than 50 rubbish collection vehicles passing to and from the site and 12 bulk vehicles importing and exporting waste.

Veolia, which holds the recycling contract for the whole of Merseyside, plans to use the site as a waste transfer station, complete with equipment for making "refuse-derived fuel."

The judge said there was "no limit on where the waste can be received from or sent to and the operation of the proposed development is not limited to dealing with waste arising within the Halton area."

The parish council has fought the plans tooth and nail, expressing “extreme concern” about the impact of noise, odour and traffic on local residents. It says increased nitrogen dioxide levels would pose a threat to human health.

The judge noted the site is not allocated for waste handling in the local development plan.

Another site at Widnes Waterfront has been allocated and the parish council says it is “fully available” for development.