Parish poll call over village biomass plan

A parish referendum is set to be held in Sutton Bridge over controversial plans for a £300m biomass plant.

Dozens of residents demanded a poll be held during a packed public meeting at the Royal British Legion hall on Friday night. A request will now be made to South Holland District Council.

As previously reported, Peterborough Renewable Energy Limited (PREL) wants to build a gasification plant for burning wood chippings on a 64-acre site at Wingland.

Project manager Helen Rome insisted the plant was not an incinerator, but was challenged by resident Craig Jackson, who argued it was “to all intents and purposes”, because of the combustion element of the proposed process.

“You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig”, he said.

Parish council vice-chairman Michael Booth said it was the 13th meeting held over the proposal, to which one resident asked: “Have they not got the hint?”

But Mrs Rome claimed to have already had 100 applications for work at the facility from Sutton Bridge residents, though she admitted the firm would consider the public mood towards their plans.

“If there were, say, 3,000 houses in Sutton Bridge and 2,500 of them say we don’t want the plant to go ahead, we would have to consider that very carefully”, she said.

She also rejected calls for the firm to pledge to meet the costs of any drop in the values of residents’ homes, saying such a condition would be illegal, but said the firm would be prepared to hold talks with MP John Hayes over the possibility of providing discounted energy for the village.

During intense exchanges, repeated concerns were raised over the potential health implications of emissions from the facility, traffic to and from the site and the impact of the scheme on residents and farmland.

But, in response to Mrs Rome’s comment that she was bringing economic growth to the area, Mr Jackson said: “Of course we want economic growth, but not at any cost.”