Northampton residents concerned over claimed benefits of gasification power plant, councillor claims

Liberal Democrat councillor Jill Hope believes people in St James may not benefit as much as hoped from having a gasification power plant close-by.

Liberal Democrat councillor Jill Hope believes people in St James may not benefit as much as hoped from having a gasification power plant close-by.

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A St James councillor has questioned how much residents will benefit from a new gasification plant on their doorstep after initial promises of providing cheap energy bills to the area appeared to have been scaled back.

Last week Northampton Borough Council agreed to hand a two-year option for the lease of the former Westbridge Depot to energy firm Rolton Kilbride and the mutual Caring Community Energy Company,

The facility being labelled as a “gasification plant”, would be the first new power plant built in Northampton since the 1970s and would create energy by heat-treating the town’s non-recyclable household waste.

When Rolton Kilbride first made a presentation about the scheme to the St James Residents’ Association a year ago, the firm suggested the plant would provide energy to homes in St James and as a result make energy bills cheaper.

However at the last residents’ association meeting on Thursday, it was announced the plant might only be supplying a small number of social homes in the area, as well as businesses in the Waterside Enterprise Zone, including Carlsberg.

County Councillor Jill Hope (Lib Dem, Sixfields) says it had left some residents feeling slightly “mis-sold” abut the proposals.

She said: “I think people have been broadly in favour of this scheme, but they have moved the goalposts now.

“This might be cynical but I do feel they won us over by buttering us up.”

Councillor Hope said residents in the area do have concerns about the plant. Though Rolton Kilbride insists such waste-to-energy schemes do not emit harmful toxins into the atmosphere, Councillor Hope says she has heard “conflicting reports” on the matter.

A consultation event is set to take place on Tuesday, November 24 at the Doddridge Centre, starting at 11am, in which members of the press will be able to quiz Rolton Kilbride and board members of the Caring Community Energy Company on the new project.

A spokeswoman for Rolton Kilbride, said the power plant proposals were still in the very early stages and nothing has been set in stone so far.

“The Northampton Community Energy scheme could produce both power and heat,” she said.

“Major Northampton sites and businesses could be provided with a direct power connection, while local homes could benefit from district heating.

“A unique new Community Interest Company will also ensure profits from the sale of energy are reinvested into the local community.

“We’re really keen to work with local residents and will be hosting events in the New Year to gather feedback.”