And that was just one of the fears shared by up to 17,000 local residents about the environmental, social and economic impact of the proposed incinerator plant, Mr Steel told the court.
With the development site set in a semi-rural area, noxious substances could find their way into the food chain via nearby agricultural and livestock-rearing activities, Mr Steel added. And whether the anxieties of local people were 'real or perceived' they still constituted a relevant planning issue which should have been dealt with at the planning stage, he said.
The Environment Secretary was wrong to leave environmental issues to be considered at a later stage by HM Pollution Inspectorate when authorisation is sought for the plant to begin operating.
Gateshead is challenging the Secretary of State's decision on May 24 this year to give the green light for the plant to be built on land off Follingsby Lane, Wardley.