Labour welcomes gasification plant in Northampton but calls for assurances over impact

Councillor Danielle Stone, leader of Northampton Labour Group
Councillor Danielle Stone, leader of Northampton Labour Group

A new gasification plant planned for Northampton has been cautiously welcomed by opposition councillors.

The Labour Group says the £160 million facility earmarked for St James would bring benefits to the town, including cleaner energy, investment and regeneration but says assurances need to be given over infrastructure and additional traffic on the roads.

Peter Rolton, Brian Binley and  David Rolton at the site of the Westbridge depot in St James, where Rolton Kilbride is hoping to build a waste-to-energy power plant.

Peter Rolton, Brian Binley and David Rolton at the site of the Westbridge depot in St James, where Rolton Kilbride is hoping to build a waste-to-energy power plant.

Last year, developers Rolton Kilbride revealed plans for the new facility at the Westbridge Depot which it says would pump £4 million of benefits to the area and would be open by 2020 if the application was successful.

Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Danielle Stone, said the plant was “potentially good news for the area”.

“I obviously welcome creating safer, cleaner energy that recycles local waste. This plant will also help bring in investment and jobs and hopefully stimulate further regeneration.

“Whilst we support this gasification plant in principle we still have many questions and want further reassurances. The new link up of St James Mill Road will aid the development of the needed infrastructure and this must be completed before the gasification plant becomes operational.

“Questions that need to be answered include, what exactly will be the increase in heavy vehicles on local roads? How can we be sure that toxic waste is safely removed and disposed of? What will be the increase in noise in the local area coming from the gasification plant?

“Perhaps most importantly the big issue has to be good public consultation with the people of St. James and the town. So far we have not had decent consultation and we hope this will change in the near future. This gasification plant can’t go ahead unless everyone has an opportunity to get involved in the consultation. The views of the residents are paramount. We need an open and honest debate on this and not knee jerk reactions.”

Last week, Green Party foreign affairs spokesman and local politician Tony Clarke criticised the news that a report on air quality impact would not be ready until April, four weeks before consultation closes.

Rolton Kilbride says the report is being carried out by specialists who will produce an independent report into air quality and traffic.

A spokesman said: “The outcome of these studies will be made publicly available as well as shared at an open event on the 6th April 2016, from 3pm to 8pm at the Doddridge Centre.”

Mr Clarke, who has questioned how independent the report will be, also noted that representatives of Rolton Kilbride did not attend the residents’ association meeting, even though the company said it would be embarking on a “roadshow” of consultation throughout January