Poisonous gases can be pumped into Manchester’s air if random spot checks aren’t enforced, claims campaign group

By David Keane

Poisonous gases and other harmful pollutants could be being emitted into Manchester’s air due to watchdogs not conducting random spot checks, a campaign group claims.

The Environment Agency has confirmed that they don’t conduct unannounced visits to check chimney stack gas emissions – but instead give advanced notice.

An environment campaign group are claiming that this gives operators time to clean-up their act if they were using harmful methods.

Pete Kilvert, Chairman of the Breathe Clean Air Group, said: “It gives the operator time to make adjustments to his process so that they won’t be caught out. If the operator knows that there are no longer spot checks, he will be tempted to carry on polluting the air.”

Mr Kilvert’s worry stems from a statement from The Environment Agency released following an Freedom of Information request, which confirmed that they give the plant operator several weeks notice.

However they do not confirm a date, they only confirm a ‘potential visit period’, which may be as long as four weeks.

The Environment Agency said: “We do not undertake stack emission monitoring testing totally unannounced. Each test campaign requires a great deal of planning, preparation work and mobilisation at considerable expense.

“In order to make efficient and effective use of our resources we will notify the plant operator several weeks in advance that we intend to carry out emissions testing at their site. We do not disclose the exact date, but rather notify them of a potential visit period.”

The Breathe Clean Air Group are currently campaigning against the controversial Barton Renewable Energy Plant in Davyhulme.

The proposed plant would be built on a 10.5 acre site of land near the Barton Bridge, and would have an energy output of 20 megawatts.

“We are extremely concerned with these answers,” said Mr Kilvert. “The proposed Barton Renewable Energy Plant will not be using the best available technology and will emit nitrogen oxides, dioxins, heavy metals, fine Particulate Matter and a number of organic pollutants.

“All these contribute to ill health and disease in the community. We need to be confident that if the incinerator is built, it is monitored adequately.”

Mr Kilvert sees the unannounced inspections as a ‘tool’ that the watchdogs have, which is ‘not being used’.

The group have organised numerous campaigns in the area as they fear dangerous chemicals may be produced by the Davyhulme plant – which they alledge may include arsenic.

PROPOSALS: What the Davyhulme plant is predicted to look like by designers

However, it is expected the construction would create 100 jobs and operation and maintenance of the plant would require workers for an additional 15 posts.

Peel Energy, who submitted the site plans, say the plant would not create health problems for local residents and the plant is fulfilling a local need.

Jonathan England, Development Director for Peel Energy, said: “Objectors to the proposals have continued to distribute material which is both misleading and inaccurate.

“We have supported our planning application to Trafford Council with detailed air quality assessments which demonstrate that there will be an imperceptible effect on human health from the emissions from this plant.”

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