‘I can’t just up sticks and leave’ fears Northampton garage owner who may have to make way for power plant

The Westbridge Depot in St James is home to a number of firms - but will they have to move if the new waste-to-energy plant gets approved?

The Westbridge Depot in St James is home to a number of firms - but will they have to move if the new waste-to-energy plant gets approved?

Have your say

Businesses near a proposed new power plant in Northampton - some who have been there for 20 years - fear they will be “flattened” and forced to move if the new facility gets the go ahead.

Rolton Kilbride is on the verge of submitting a planning application for the £120 million gasification plant at the Westbridge Depot which will work by “baking” non-recyclable waste and turning into electricity and gas. But after a residents’ meeting in St James last week, it has emerged that a number of companies currently based at the depot would almost certainly have to be relocated in order to allow the plant to be situated there.

Rolton Kilbride’s traffic predictions for the new power plant do not appear to take into account the companies already there.

But owner of K Jackson’s MOT Centre Graham Jackson says the firms there have not been given a definite answer.

He said: “I think they’re going to flatten my business I’m certain of it.

“Look at the size of the thing they are proposing.

“All of us will have to go surely.”

Northampton Borough Council owns the Westbridge Depot and has given Rolton Kilbride a two-year option on the land to seek approval for the power plant.

However cabinet member for regeneration at the council, Councillor Tim Hadland, has not given a definitive answer to the firms yet either.

He said: “Cabinet agreed to grant a two-year option to Rolton Kilbride for the Westbridge site, subject to them fulfilling certain conditions.

“Cabinet will receive a further report on progress in due course. If we were to grant a lease to Rolton Kilbride the borough council would work pro-actively with all businesses on the site to ensure their continued prosperity.”

Mr Jackson, says that it would take him between six and nine months to relocate his firm, which carries out MOT testing for a lot of the town’s taxis.

“I have been here for 20 years - it won’t be easy to up sticks and move somewhere,” he said.

While there is much debate over exactly how harmful the fumes from the facility off St James Mill Road will be, there have also been concerns that the plant will create extra congestion in St James as lorries deliver waste to the plant.

Last year a public exhibition heard that there would be around 35 lorry deliveries a day.

But Rolton Kilbride now says there will be 45 individual deliveries - 90 movements every day, for six days a week.

The firm’s managing director Andrew Needham, said: “The transport assessment is currently in progress and full results will be ready for the planned public exhibition on the 6th April.

“Anticipated deliveries will be approximately 45 deliveries per day to the energy centre. Preliminary findings indicate that overall traffic levels from the site may be reduced compared with the current usage.”

Westbridge Depot is currently used by Northampton Borough Council’s waste contractors Enterprise for sorting collected waste and storing vehicles.

Green Party’s environment spokesman and former Northampton South MP Tony Clarke, is sceptical over Rolton Kilbride’s suggestion 90 traffic movements will be less than the current usage, when the plant can accept up to 200,000 tonnes of waste to convert every year.

He said: “90 is a significant increase in an area that is already suffering illegal levels of pollution.

Rolton Kilbride will be holding an open event on the April 6 at the Doddridge Centre in St James, between 3pm and 8pm.

Anyone with questions for Rolton Kilbride can email info@northamptoncommunityenergy.co.uk prior to the event.