Motion will call on developers to hold power plant ‘referendum’ in Northampton this afternoon

Campaigners outside County Hall this morning were calling for plans for a gasification plant in St James to be scrapped.
Campaigners outside County Hall this morning were calling for plans for a gasification plant in St James to be scrapped.
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Councillors will vote soon whether to hold a referendum on plans of a new power plant in Northampton later today.

Last week Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet deferred a decision to grant Rolton Kilbride an option on the Westbridge depot land.

The firm aims to build a £160 million waste-to-energy power plant there which would be powered by the county’s non-recyclable rubbish .

Later this afternoon Northamptonshire County Council’s full council, will hear a motion submitted by Labour Councillor Gareth Eales (Lab, Dallington and Spencer), calling for a referendum to be held on the plant.

He said: “The motion I have the pleasure of moving calls for fundamental public consultation, in the form of a referendum.

“Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet last week wisely expressed concern about the inferior standard of consultation to date. Well what better remedy than a referendum of the public to ascertain the level of support and opposition before an informed decision is made by elected public officials?”

The county council’s development control committee would ultimately decide whether or not to grant planning permission to the plant.

Several speakers are expected to discuss the plant at today’s full council meeting in County Hall.

Councillor Eales’ motion will also call on the authority to note the “public concern around the proposed gasification/ incinerator plant.”

He will says there is particular concern over the emissions from the plant, which will release trace levels mercury, sulphur dioxide and particulates in the air.

Rolton Kilbride claims these will be at a “harmless” level.

However the World Health Organisation says “Exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life.”

Finally Councillor Eales will say there also needs to be a full examination of what “potential benefits” would be provided to the people living near the plant.

Around 2,000 homes will receive cheaper heat bills as a result of the plant, Rolton says, and it claims it will invest millions into the built infrastructure of the town.

Councillor Eales says the referendum would have to be run independently with residents living within a 1.5 mile radius of the proposed plant site.

The results of it could then be submitted to the council’s development control committee.