Victory is sweet for gasifier campaigners

Sweet taste of victory - Sutton Bridge great-granny Shirley Giles (front, right) with fellow campaigners outside the council offices. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG180315-184TW
Sweet taste of victory - Sutton Bridge great-granny Shirley Giles (front, right) with fellow campaigners outside the council offices. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG180315-184TW

The threat of a gasifier power station – dubbed an incinerator or “cancinerator” – at Sutton Bridge ebbed away when councillors unanimously refused an application from EnergyPark Sutton Bridge.

South Holland’s planners passed the plans in 2013, but a 75-year-old great granny, parish councillor Shirley Giles, used her own cash to overturn that decision on a key issue concerning sustainability in the High Court. The planning committee’s blunder cost South Holland council taxpayers £10,500.

It is a sad day when someone has to take legal action to prove that an authority got it wrong.

Great-granny Shirley Giles

On Wednesday, the committee made an about turn after the developers failed for seven months to supply the key information their officers decided was needed to make a sound decision.

Coun Giles, representing her parish council, told the committee: “It is a sad day when someone has to take legal action to prove that an authority got it wrong.”

Some 420,000 tonnes wood were to be burned each year at the Wingland site but gasifier opponent Brian Collins-McDougall said its inefficiency meant “300,000 tonnes of wood will literally go up in smoke for nothing”.

The threat of a gasifier, with its 12 chimneys, has hung over the village since 2009. Victory is sweet for now, but the threat could return as the applicants have a right to appeal within six months and have up to 12 months to come back with a similar plan without laying out more cash.

Part of the reasons for refusal say: “In the absence of information relating to the sustainability of the fuel source, the cumulative visual impact, the cumulative impact on air quality and potential impact of emissions on The Wash, the council is not satisfied that the proposed development is acceptable.”

Coun Bryan Alcock, who was told further grounds could be added if the company returned, said: “I wouldn’t want the applicant to believe this is the sole reason.”