UPDATE: Police step in to ease disruption at A17 protest parade

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News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
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Friday 10am: Police have stepped in to minimise disruption to traffic in tomorrow’s planned protest parade of slow moving traffic at Sutton Bridge.

Gasifier protesters planned to gridlock the A17 with tractors, cars, vans and bikes, but police – who will be on the scene – want to restrict the vehicles to Bridge Road while allowing them to turn at one single roundabout on the A17 at the foot of Cross Keys Bridge.

Police admit there may still be “some slight disruption to traffic flow”.

Sgt Gareth Boxall said: “To ensure that this protest does not unduly disrupt the wider community, conditions have been imposed to ensure that the procession does not slow traffic on the A17 and these give a number of sensible instructions to those involved in the protest.

“Police will attend the protest on Saturday morning to ensure these conditions are complied with and to ensure the safety of those involved as well as motorists on the A17.

“I take this opportunity to ask those participating to follow the instructions passed to them by the organisers and given to them by police officers at the scene.

“For those who plan on travelling through Sutton Bridge, we will endeavour to keep delays to a minimum but there may be some slight disruption to traffic flow.”

Sgt Boxall thanked residents and road users for their patience and cooperation.

Wednesday: A slow-moving parade of tractors, cars, vans and bikes will gridlock the A17 around Sutton Bridge on Saturday morning as villagers protest against plans for a biomass power station.

The parade – starting at 10am – is organised by the newly formed Wash and Sutton Bridge Protection Group, which admits it “could result in traffic chaos and long delays for motorists”.

EnergyPark Sutton Bridge drew up amended plans for a power station after great-granny Shirley Giles (74) scuppered planning approval for its original application by taking South Holland District Council to the High Court.

Wash group chairman Colin Blundell said: “The new application is actually worse for local residents than the old one. The amount of wood they will burn has increased from 350,000 tonnes a year to 420,000 tonnes a year. They are now proposing HGV deliveries from 7am to 11pm seven days a week.

“Local people live within 20 metres of the plant – their lives will be hell.”

Villagers have a string of objections to the plant, including the risk of air pollution from the combined impact of up to three power stations, the fire risk after huge blazes broke out involving similar wood-based biomass at plants around the country and lorries entering and leaving the site every five minutes.

Protester and parish councillor Jenny Rowe said: “In their application the developer showed pictures of an empty A17. Regular road users know that traffic congestion is already a problem – who do they think they are kidding?

“They event wanted incinerator traffic to be given priority over other road users through controlled traffic lights.

“HGVs will enter and exit the site every five minutes.

“The traffic delays the protest will cause next Saturday will be nothing compared to the traffic delays if this goes ahead.”

Wash group secretary Brian Collins-McDougall described Shirley Giles as “a local hero”.

He said: “She stood up and fought for the village.

“Now we are calling on all villagers to turn out and support her.

“We will send a loud message to South Holland District Council next Saturday – ‘stop working against local people and start working for them’.”

The group says villagers are fed up with Sutton Bridge being used as “a dumping ground for unwanted industrial projects”.

Sutton Bridge already has an 817MW gas-fired power station, a proposed new EDF Sutton Bridge B 1800MW gas-fired power station and a wind farm.