Parish steps up its fight against gasifier

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Sutton Bridge Parish Council may take its fight to overturn planning consent for a £200million gasifier to the Secretary of State.

The parish council meets on Tuesday and members are being asked to go to the top to ask for a public inquiry into South Holland District Council’s decision to give planning consent to the EnergyPark Sutton Bridge plant at Wingland.

An extraordinary parish council meeting was called some days ago at which members agreed to set aside a £10,000 fighting fund.

Judicial review is one avenue being explored by parish councillors and an anticipated formal complaint to the district council may end up with the Local Government Ombudsman.

Three parish councillors – Shirley Giles, Jenny Rowe and Vicky Hills – have tabled a series of motions for Tuesday’s meeting, including using some of the £10,000 fighting fund to leaflet villagers and keep them in the picture.

Coun Rowe said it was the first time South Holland had dealt with a gasifier application and consent was given when there remain so many unanswered questions about its possible effects on people, wildlife and the environment.

She said: “We know now that all other countries are building them in the middle of nowhere.”

Coun Hills says the district council paid scant regard to people living and working at Wingland and there was nothing she could see in documents submitted to assess the risk of explosion or fire.

“That’s a huge factor especially considering it’s right next door to a gas fired power station,” she said.

The district council imposed a planning condition to restrict the plant to using wood rather than biomass and, since then, EnergyPark Sutton Bridge has slashed £100million off the original estimate of the build cost.

The company says the plant will be less complex if it burns wood alone.

But Coun Hills says that means something has changed and she wants to know why there isn’t a fresh planning application.

She says the plant was originally going to handle 350,000 tonnes of biomass a year, but the tonnage has grown to 420,000 and she wants to know what impact that will have on roads and the environment.

Parish councillors also say there’s not enough wood in the UK to feed the plant and it will have to come from overseas.

They are also concerned the wood may come through Port Sutton Bridge, making life a misery for those living on West Bank who will be subject to HGV traffic and noise.