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Council delays £300m gasifier verdict for more information

Sutton Bridge gasifier protesters wore protective masks and carried a coffin when they took a petition to South Holland District Councils offices on July 23.

Sutton Bridge gasifier protesters wore protective masks and carried a coffin when they took a petition to South Holland District Councils offices on July 23.

South Holland’s planning committee is delaying its verdict on amended plans for a controversial £300million wood-fuelled gasifier power station until it gets more information from the energy company.

Planners passed EneryPark Sutton Bridge’s original plan last year, but that decision was found to be unlawful on a key issue concerning sustainability when great-grandma Shirley Giles launched a legal challenge in the High Court.

Amended plans were expected to be decided by the planning committee last month, but the decision was put off until August 27 – and is now further postponed until at least September 24.

Government grants for this type of power plant are due to be scrapped, but a company spokesman said on Monday: “Mechanisms to access government subsidies will still be in place.”

Mrs Giles has stepped up her fight against the council by asking the local government watchdog, the Ombudsman, to probe its handling of the application, including its failure to answer key questions from the public, such as where the fuel stock will come from and if it will come through local ports.

She is pleased the council is at last seeking more information from the company, but said: “I really won’t be happy until the thing is quashed entirely and EnergyPark Sutton Bridge go somewhere else.”

A council spokesman said: “After considering both the details of the revised submission and analysing the re-consultation exercise, officers are seeking clarification on certain points, as well as some additional information, from the applicant EnergyPark Sutton Bridge to ensure the committee has the full range of information when considering this application.

“Among the issues we have raised is to request more information regarding the likelihood or otherwise of being able to source the proposed feedstock – virgin and non-virgin wood – from within the UK.”

A spokesman for EnergyPark Sutton Bridge said the company is working closely with the council to provide answers to each question raised.

He said: “Once built, the EnergyPark will have a positive impact on the local economy, through inward investment of £300million in an area dedicated for industrial development, substantial job creation, and green energy for 66,000 homes, powered by wood and sustainable sources.”

Villagers have dubbed the plant a “cancinerator” and fear it will pose a major risk to health and a fire and explosion threat.

 

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