Delay granting power plant option tonight pleads Northampton community leader

A residents' association chairman has described the consultation for a new power plant in Northampton as 'woeful' in an open letter to the borough council leader.

Wednesday, 8th June 2016, 11:32 am
Updated Thursday, 9th June 2016, 11:45 am
Graham Croucher of the St James residents' Association is calling on the borough council to delay granting an option to Rolton Kilbride for the Westbridge depot tonight.

Tonight Northampton Borough Council will decide whether to grant Rolton Kilbride a two-year option to develop the Westbridge Depot into a waste-to-energy plant.

Protestors are expected to be at the Guildhall at around 5.15pm in hope the council will delay the decision.

This morning, chairman of the St James Residents’ Association, Graham Croucher has issued an open letter to the council leader, calling for just that.

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He says the public consultation held by Rolton Kilbride has not been thorough enough and says the company has backtracked on the scheme’s benefits.

“The whole process has been woeful,” he said. “A fact acknowledged widely by many across the political spectrum, many people are still unaware of the proposal, and those that are, still seem as confused as they were previously.”

Mr Croucher claims that when Rolton Kilbride first announced the scheme in 2014, a residents’ meeting was told the plant could provide power to 55,000 homes.

Brian Binley, the chairman of the company that would effectively sell the energy to the public, disputes this figure. The developers now say 2,000 homes would receive cheaper heat in the vicinity of the plant, should it be built.

Mr Croucher went on to say Rolton Kilbride did not hold a “series of roadshows” on the plant at the start of 2016 as first announced.

Neither did the developers attend a residents’ association meeting. Instead former MP Mr Binley attended the meeting

Though Mr Croucher says Mr Binley was “confusing at this meeting and seemingly at odds to previous information supplied”.

Appealing directly to the cabinet, Mr Croucher wrote: “To ratify this agreement, at this stage, before full consultation has taken place, suggests that the borough council is tacitly in agreement with the proposal, and would prejudice the forthcoming planning application before the majority of residents have had time to consider the proposals.”

Mr Binley said he was disappointed by Mr Croucher’s letter, as both men sat on the board of the Northampton Community Energy Scheme board until recently.

“I’m really saddened by Graham’s letter,” he said.

“The reason I asked him to be a part of the board was to give him the opportunity to raise any objections and seek answers to any queries he might have.

“Graham attended board meetings and didn’t raise any of these issues at the time.”

Mr Binley also said he did not believe he gave confusing information at the residents’ meeting.

He added: “The real consultation will be undertaken as part of the county council’s consideration of the request for planning permission.”

Leader of Northampton Borough Council, Councillor Mary Markham, (Con, Park) said: “I have received Mr Croucher’s email and have confirmed to him that it will be given full consideration at tonight’s cabinet meeting.”