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Augean wins case to bury nuclear waste in Peterborough

Taking on the Augean stables was one of the labours Heracles successfully overcame in Greek mythology. But Northamptonshire found no such champion yesterday as the High Court ruled against an attempt to block waste-disposal company Augean from burying radioactive waste in the county.

The plan to dump 250,000 tons of nuclear waste a year at the site in Kings Cliffe near Peterborough caused outcry when it was approved by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in May. Yet moves to block it have proved fruitless.

Augean said yesterday it was "pleased" at the dismissal of the challenge to its plans to put waste with "small amounts of radioactivity" into its hazardous landfill facility in East Northamptonshire. Its chief executive, Paul Blackler, said: "We welcome today's High Court ruling and are pleased the Secretary of State's earlier approval has been reaffirmed. It is reassuring that the integrity of the environmental impact assessment and its scope has been reaffirmed."

Northamptonshire County Council had refused planning permission for the move, before Mr Pickles approved the project. The company said the council's move to block its waste-disposal plans had not been based on "sound scientific or planning grounds".

The matter headed for the courts after a local resident filed an appeal with the High Court. Yesterday's decision is open to appeal.

When Mr Pickles approved the project, Augean said the minister and the Environment Agency "would not authorise permission for disposal of these wastes unless they were completely satisfied that they present negligible risk to human health or the environment".