MP to join villagers’ campaign

HEALTH FEARS: Adults and children from Sutton Bridge wore protective masks and carried a coffin in a protest at the council offices in July. SG230714-108TW
HEALTH FEARS: Adults and children from Sutton Bridge wore protective masks and carried a coffin in a protest at the council offices in July. SG230714-108TW
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MP John Hayes has spoken to senior Government colleagues in a bid to have controversial plans for a £300million gasifier power station decided by a public inquiry.

Tomorrow (Friday) the South Holland and The Deepings MP will hit the streets of Long Sutton as protesters from Sutton Bridge spell out their fears about potential harm to human health and The Wash, a wildlife haven of world importance, and the risk of fires and explosions posed by the gasifier’s wood-based fuel stock.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has stepped in over plans for wind turbines between two nature reserves at West Pinchbeck and there may be a public inquiry following a plea by Mr Hayes to Secretary of State Eric Pickles.

Protesters in Sutton Bridge have welcomed that step and want the same for their village.

South Holland District Council passed plans for the wood-burning gasifier on land at Wingland, but that decision was quashed by the High Court on a key issue concerning sustainability when parish councillor Shirley Giles (74) paid for a legal challenge.

The council appears set on giving a verdict on EnergyPark Sutton Bridge’s amended plans despite a local referendum – a parish poll – that asked for it to be taken out of council hands and go to a public inquiry.

Villagers also wanted a proposed gas-fired power station on the banks of the Nene to be decided by a public inquiry, but the district council failed to back them.

Mr Hayes shares villagers’ concerns about both sites being in flood risk areas and says the power plants shouldn’t go there, particularly in light of the December 5 tidal surge that swept up the Nene and threatened to overflow the banks.

Speaking about the gasifier, Mr Hayes said: “I think there is a very good case for this being determined nationally and I hope local councillors will share my concerns about it.”

The EnergyPark plan is on hold until the council gets answers from EnergyPark Sutton Bridge on questions such as the source of the feedstock.

Sutton Bridge resident Jenny Rowe wants to know why the council previously passed the plans without that information.

She said: “The council is now admitting by asking for more information that the developer’s application was in fact flawed. If Coun Shirley Giles had not taken legal action, paid from her own pocket, Sutton Bridge would now be facing a development that would have devastating consequences for our village and surrounding area.”

• Both plants would need Government consents before they could become operational.