Biomass power station decision put on hold

Protesters against plans for a biomass power station in Sutton Bridge make their feelings known during the South Holland District Council planning committee meeting.
Protesters against plans for a biomass power station in Sutton Bridge make their feelings known during the South Holland District Council planning committee meeting.

Plans to build a £300million biomass power station in Sutton Bridge look set to go ahead despite councillors deferring a final decision.

Scores of villagers packed into the South Holland District Council offices in Spalding on Wednesday to watch the planning committee debate the Energy Park Sutton Bridge bid.

But they left disappointed after the proposal was not thrown out by the committee.

Members agreed to defer the application to allow officers to get further information on how a discounted electricity supply which was promised by the applicant would be implemented and enforced. An earlier proposal to grant planing permission had been withdrawn.

Speaking after the meeting Sutton Bridge parish councillor Jenny Rowe said: “I am pleased that it has been deferred but disappointed that it has not been refused.

“I am very surprised that the planning committee could not see the effect this will have on environmental issues and the quality of people’s lives.”

The applicant, also known as PREL, wants to build a 48MW power station with 12 stacks close to the existing power station. Two stacks will not be used but constructed for “aesthetic” reasons.

The plant would be powered by 420,000 tonnes of wood a year, delivered by about 65 trucks a day.

Chris Williams, managing director of Energy Park Sutton Bridge, told the committee 400 jobs would be created in the construction and operational periods.

He said the community fund would distribute £250,000 a year and the plans would help with the development of the industrial estate, as well as meeting the need for renewable energy.

He said: “All of the materials are suitable and meet a high standard. We will not accept waste.”

But Stephanie Wheeler, who lives in nearby Chalk Lane, said the site was unsuitable due to its close proximity to 49 homes.

She said: “All the extra road traffic will be detrimental to the health of residents in Sutton Bridge and surrounding areas, who already have to cope with a great deal.”

Mrs Rowe asked why the council had only approached PREL and if it had compromised itself.

She said: “Emissions already on occasion reach the upper limit on the Wingland site; therefore the cumulative effect could have a significant impact on residents’ health”

Sutton Bridge councillor Michael Booth urged the meeting to reject the proposal.

Ward member Chris Brewis discussed the traffic impacts and asked if the delivery trucks were sealed to prevent diseases from imported wood. He also highlighted the village opposition to the plan.

Roger Perkins raised concerns about the impact of the delivery trucks onto the A17 while Andrew Tennant stated that public opinion was important but the project was “the way the world is going.”

Rita Rudkin called for the scheme to be deferred in order for further assessment of the environmental impact.

Committee chairman Roger Gambba-Jones, who raised concerns about the implementation of the discounted electricity, put forward a suggestion of tracking software being added to delivery trucks.

Earlier in the meeting he said: “If the people of Sutton Bridge and surrounding area believe it is an inappropriate site, they should have told us long before now so we can begin the process of de-allocating it.”

Howard Johnson initially proposed the application be granted but later withdrew that for the decision to be deferred.

During his first proposal Mr Johnson said: “This is an industrial site and the benefits outweigh the down side.

“Among other things power will be provided to the whole of the industrial site of Sutton Bridge.”