‘Devastating blow’: Campaign group slam government’s decision to allow Davyhulme biomass incinerator

By Phil Jones

A controversial decision to give a planned biomass plant in Davyhulme the go ahead is a ‘devastating blow’ to the area’s residents, according to the Breathe Clean Air group.

The secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles MP, has overturned the November 2011 decision of Trafford Council to block the development.

With work on the Barton Renewable Energy Plant now set to begin in 2014, a spokesman for the campaign group, Mason Corbishley, was dismayed at the decision.

“The announcement is a devastating blow to the people of Trafford, Salford and Manchester,” said the 17-year-old campaigner.

“The historic and unprecedented level of local opposition, including from local residents, doctors, businesses and MPs, has been swept aside to make way for an outdated, dirty incinerator.

“It is ironic that the decision made by our locally-elected councillors, has been overturned by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, whose remit includes supporting local councils.”

Plans for the plant, a waste wood incinerator, were rejected in late 2011, prompting an appeal from Peel Energy and a public inquiry in November 2012.

The planning inspector’s report was sent to Mr Pickles’ office, but he decided against the wish of Trafford residents.

The campaign group claim burning of contaminated wood will increase air pollution, leading to serious health impacts and premature death, in an area of already poor air quality.

“There is a body of credible evidence suggesting that this plant will cause harm and people may therefore leave the area,” added Mr Corbishley.

“The decision means that local residents will be stuck with a dirty, polluting process for at least 25 years.

“We believe the careless nature of this decision will be evidenced in years to come as the impact on health becomes reality.”

Peel Energy claim the plant will generate renewable, low-carbon energy for up to 37,000 homes, using approximately 200,000 tonnes of biomass annually.

Much of the energy will come from burning of reclaimed wood which otherwise would have gone to landfill and project manager Jon England welcomed Mr Pickles’ decision.

“We would like to thank both the Secretary of State and the planning inspector for giving the plans a fair hearing,” he said.

“These are exactly the kinds of decisions that are required if the UK is to meet its renewable energy targets, reduce reliance on imported energy and avoid valuable resources going into landfill.

“We look forward to taking the project into the next stage, ultimately delivering renewable energy and jobs for the region.”

Kate Green, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston, has helped to campaign against the plans and expressed her disappointment at the decision.

“People in Urmston, Davyhulme and Flixton will be angry that the Government has allowed the plant to go ahead, and I share their disappointment that the application has been granted,” she said.

“The Breathe Clean Air group fought a dedicated and high-profile battle, which demonstrated the strength of local people’s opposition to the incinerator.

“The Tories say they want local people to have more of a say in planning decisions, but the government have totally ignored the fact that local people do not want the incinerator here.”

Reaction of residents in the area reflected the views of Mr Corbishley and Ms Green, with supporters of the campaign taking to Twitter to voice their views.

“I really want @EricPickles to come and explain to my children why their lives are worth less than Peel Holdings money,” said Claire, of Davyhulme.

With Urmston resident Joanne Harding adding: “Utterly appalled by the decision made by Eric Pickles to pass planning for incinerator. Minister for communities…I think not.”

And ‘farmerjoneswife’ said: “Absolutely appalled and disgusted that this has been given the go ahead. Such a lovely community destined for ruin!”

Mr Corbishley said the campaign group will now review the 174-page decision document and consult their legal team before deciding how to proceed.

Image courtesy of Peel Energy, with thanks.

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