Binley brands Northampton Borough Council ‘Luddites’ for putting power plant plan ‘at risk’

Former MP Brian Binley has hit back at the council's decision to delay its cabinet meeting agenda item on the new St James power plant last night.
Former MP Brian Binley has hit back at the council's decision to delay its cabinet meeting agenda item on the new St James power plant last night.

A former Northampton MP says he is “saddened and dismayed” the borough council delayed a decision on a £160 million power plant at the last minute yesterday.

The authority was within an hour of deciding whether to grant Rolton Kilbride a two-year option to on developing the Westbridge depot into a waste-to-energy plant.

But in a shock decision it was removed from the cabinet meeting agenda just minutes before the meeting because the council felt consultation around the proposals had not been good enough.

Chairman of the Northampton Community Energy Scheme (NCES), which would sell on the energy from the plant, Brian Binley, launched a tirade against the council’s decision when speaking to the Chronicle & Echo today.

He said: “I was saddened because the council has placed at risk massive benefits for the town for many years to come.

“They included investing between £4.5 million and £6 million in the built environment of the town each year for the next 25 years.”

Mr Binley said the deferral of the cabinet decision will risk Rolton Kilbride getting the funding it needs for the plant as the government grant application deadline for such schemes is in October.

An option agreement on the land would need to be in place before then.

Mr Binley said Rolton Kilbride could bid for another funding round next year, but he said; “Will we see the same Luddite reaction by the borough council again?”

He said the borough’s decision also risks costing the county council £89 million a year in landfill tax, the amount it currently has to pay to dump its non-recyclable waste.

“This matter has been with the council for 11 months,” he added.

“They have state they will bring it to cabinet on five separate occasions, but failed to move it forward.”

In terms of consultation Mr Binley said he believed Rolton Kilbride and NCES “tried to talk to everybody” over the first six months of 2016 and offered the chairman of St James Residents’ Association a place on the NCES board.

He added that he felt a “small group of activists” had “bullied” the borough council into deferring the decision.

Yesterday Tony Clarke, of the No Monster Incinerator in Northampton group, said “no one” in St James wanted the new power plant.

He said: “Rolton Kilbride need to understand that we will fight this right to the end until we have chased them out of town.”

A spokesman for Rolton Kilbride said today: “Naturally we are disappointed that the matter of the property options was not discussed yesterday evening.

“We look forward to talking with Northampton Borough Council to determine what, if anything we can do to support the discussion at the next available opportunity and remain committed to ongoing dialogue with the community to air and discuss any concerns.”