Villagers fighting plans for a £300million “cancinerator” in their midst met yesterday (Monday) to decide the next steps in their campaign to derail the power plant.
On Saturday more than 60 cars, trucks and motorbikes took part in a mass demonstration in the streets of Sutton Bridge – supported by scores of placard-waving protesters beside Cross Keys Bridge and along Bridge Road.
Further protests are planned for Spalding and Sutton Bridge as villagers bid to have EnergyPark Sutton Bridge’s amended planning application for a wood-fuelled, gasifier power plant go to a public inquiry rather than be decided by South Holland District Council (SHDC).
SHDC’s planning committee blundered when it gave consent for the original plans last year – and landed council taxpayers with a £10,500 legal bill after Sutton Bridge great-granny Shirley Giles (74) won her case in the High Court over a key issue concerning sustainability.
As well as planning permission, the plant will need Government environmental consents before it could operate.
South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes has written to Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to ask for a public inquiry.
Campaigners believe the council is bowing to pressure from EnergyPark Sutton Bridge to make a speedy decision on the application because the Government will scrap cash subsidies for this type of power plant within the next few weeks.
Mr Hayes said: “If they don’t get it this time, they miss out on those subsidies, that’s the truth of it.”
The MP said the company is refusing to say where the wood to fuel the plant will come from and that make it impossible to test the project’s sustainability.
He said: “Unless I am given absolute assurances that it is sustainable – and in the interests of local people – why on earth would I support it?”
Villagers have asked for a parish poll so all residents can vote on the question: “Do you want the Secretary of State to call a public inquiry into the proposed EnergyPark Sutton Bridge gasifier incinerator and EDF B gas turbine power station in the parish of Sutton Bridge?”
A formal request for a poll has gone to SHDC.
Villagers had threatened to gridlock the A17 in Saturday’s mass vehicle “parade”, but scaled down the protest after police stepped in.
Police Sgt Gareth Boxall said: “Our officers ensured that traffic was allowed to flow smoothly but were able to do that while still allowing this protest to take place.”
The parade was led by Wingland resident Kevin Wheeler with the Vicar of Sutton Bridge, the Rev David Oxtoby, riding pillion on a three-wheeled motorbike.
Mr Wheeler lives 300metres from the power plant site and said: “It will devastate our lives.”
Saturday’s car parade saw drivers sounding their horns as they completed two loops of the village, including the A17 roundabout at the foot of Cross Keys Bridge, and then gathering for a vocal protest outside the home of county, district and parish councillor Chris Brewis to ask for his support.
Coun Brewis, who was not at home, is a member of SHDC’s planning committee,
He said yesterday: “I have to be impartial. If I was to declare my hand either way, I would not be able to sit on the planning committee.”