Gasifier fight is stepped up

FIGHTING ON: Great-granny Shirley Giles is asking the Ombudsman to investigate the council's handling of the gasifier application.

FIGHTING ON: Great-granny Shirley Giles is asking the Ombudsman to investigate the council's handling of the gasifier application.

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The great-granny who scuppered the first attempt to build a £300million wood-fuelled gasifier at Sutton Bridge is now taking her fight to the Local Government Ombudsman.

EnergyPark Sutton Bridge has put in an amended plan for the gasifier – dubbed by locals as a “cancinerator” – but the parish council, MP John Hayes and opponents want it decided at an independent public inquiry rather than by South Holland District Council’s planning committee.

Shirley Giles (74) had the planning committee’s original approval quashed in the High Court because it was found to be unlawful on a key issue concerning sustainability – the council blunder cost taxpayers £10,500.

The planning committee is due to deliver a second verdict on August 27, but Mrs Giles has written to the Ombudsman, the local government watchdog, to complain about the district council’s handling of the application so far.

She said: “I am concerned that South Holland’s planning committee are unable to be impartial on this one because the council were involved in introducing the land owners to EnergyPark Sutton Bridge and mediated between the two parties.”

Mrs Giles said she and fellow residents have repeatedly sought answers from the council, which haven’t been forthcoming.

Among key questions that have never been answered are:

l Where will the fuel stock come from?

l How are Lincolnshire County Council highways able to compile a traffic and transport assessment of the roads if they have no prior knowledge of where the fuel will be coming from?

l Where will the fly ash residue be transported to?

l Will the fuel stock come through the ports of King’s Lynn and Sutton Bridge?

l Why is there no cumulative impact assessment available?

Mrs Giles and fellow residents delivered a petition to the council, asking for a full council debate and for the gasifier decision to go to a public inquiry, but has been told there will be no debate and the petition will go to the planning committee.

On Wednesday residents of Sutton Bridge and Wingland can vote in a parish poll – a local referendum – with a question asking if they want the EnergyPark Sutton Bridge application and an EDF plan for a gas-fired power station on the banks of the Nene to go to a public inquiry.

The poll runs from 4pm-9pm at The Curlew Centre in Bridge Road.

Gasifier opponent Jenny Rowe is organising transport for those who cannot get a lift to the centre – she can be contacted on 01406 350093.

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