Air quality report on new £160m Northampton power plant will not be ready until April

A long-awaited report outlining whether a new power plant in St James would produce harmful toxins will not be available until April...four weeks before consultation closes.

The Northampton Community Energy Scheme would see an “off-grid” power plant built at the Westbridge Depot site by around 2020 if the bid is successful.

The £160 million facility in St James could pump around £4 million of benefits into the Northampton community every year and provide cheaper heating to areas of “sizeable fuel poverty”, its developers claim.

But opponents of the scheme have feared that the plant will also pump out harmful toxins and have labelled the “waste to energy plant” as an “incinerator”.

The Green Party’s foreign affairs spokesman Tony Clarke has been calling for a full report detailing the gases produced by the plant since 2014.

But developer Rolton Kilbride have confirmed this week will not be available until a public exhibition on April 6.

“Rolton Kilbride has now appointed specialists to plan the project,” a spokeswoman for the developer said.

”Over the coming weeks they will undertake independent studies into a number of areas including air quality and traffic.

“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.”

However a number of people raised concerns about the timing of the reports at the last St James Residents’ Association meeting.

Mr Clarke, who attended, said: “There will be only a four-week period between the meeting on the 6th when the company reveal their air quality document and the planning application being submitted.

“A former planning officer attending told the meeting that in her view this failed the pre-application consultation required for such a large scheme.”

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.

Rolton Kilbride says anyone interested in finding out more and meeting “experts” can attend to discuss the scheme in detail at the Doddridge Centre on April 6.

It says it does plan to attend upcoming meetings of the St James and Far Cotton residents’ associations and says it will “communicate the dates of the meetings at and through door-to-door leaflets in the coming weeks”.

Rolton Kilbride says members of the public will have time to comment on the proposals once a planning application has been submitted.