In doing so he departed from the 'short, unequivocal and clear' recommendations of his own planning inspector, the Council's barrister, Mr David Steel QC, told the High Court.
The Northumbrian Water Group Plc appealed to the Inspector against the Borough's refusal of planning permission for construction of the incinerator at Felling Sewage Treatment Works, Follingsby Lane, Wardley, Gateshead, the court heard.
The proposed incinerator would have a 40 metre high stack and was one of the options open to the Northern Regional Health Authority for disposal of some 8,000 tonnes of clinical waste a year. The Inspector rejected the Northumbrian Water Group's appeal after a local inquiry, finding that the proposed development was 'not acceptable in a semi-rural area', said Mr Steel.
In his decision letter the Secretary of State said arguments made by the 'Residents Against Incineration' Group (RAIN) had been fully taken into account. But there was a clear need for clinical waste incineration facilities and the nearest residential area was about one kilometre away from the proposed plant.
Sunderland's appeal against the Secretary of State's decision continues and is expected to last about two days.