Waste giant Veolia ES (UK) Ltd had sought permission to build a plant capable of processing up to 85,000 tonnes of waste annually on land off Pickerings Road, Widnes. The site was formerly used by a demolition contractor and scrap metal company.
Halton Borough Council granted planning permission for the scheme, allowing a change in the site's use, in January. But in a ruling this week, High Court judge Mrs Justice Lieven has overturned that decision.
The judge ruled that councillors did not have all the information they needed to make up their own minds about Veolia's proposal, for a site that is not allocated as a waste handling site in the local development plan.
An alternative site, at Widnes Waterfront, has been allocated and Hale Bank Parish Council - which brought the legal challenge - says it is "fully available" for development.
The judge said Halton councillors had been told that Veolia had "supplied sufficient information" to show the project's compliance with local planning policies.
But a planning officer's report told them "nothing about why, or on what basis" that was the case, and the judge added: "The members were therefore not in a position to make up their own minds."
Veolia said the site was close to its depot and that Widnes Waterfront and other allocated sites were "not considered suitable".
But the judge said: "There was no investigation, or even consideration, of the suitability or availability of alternative sites."
Hale Bank Parish Council v Halton Borough Council. Case Number: CO/1023/2019
A version of this story was originally published by ENDS' sister title Planning magazine.