The company behind a power station proposed for land on St James Mill Road in Northampton have vowed it “will not go to war with residents.”
During an exclusive interview with The Chron today, Rolton Kilbride - an amalgamation of Rolton Group engineering company and Kilbride infrastructure developers - said it would only submit a planning application for a waste-to-energy station on the site if it had the full support of people from the town.
Engineer and chairman of Northamptonshire-based Rolton Group, Peter Rolton, said: “We are today beginning a six-month consultation process to share the facts about the station and gather feedback from residents. Only then will we begin putting together a formal planning application.
“I will not go to war with residents and, if after the consultation they still don’t want the power station to be built, it won’t happen.”
Mr Rolton, originally from Towcester, said that the station, which will collect waste from Northamptonshire households and then use a process of gasification to turn it into power and heat, will “decentralise energy” and help to “break down the monopoly of The Big Six.”
He explained that profits from the privately-owned station would be reinvested into the public pocket through a ‘community energy scheme’.
He said: “We will sell the power back at the normal wholesale price and there will be no private stakeholders. By recycling this material we are also cutting the council’s landfill bill in half.”
In response to concerns about the impact of the station on the environment, Mr Rolton said: “The process of gasification doesn’t use combustion so it will be releasing lower levels of carbon dioxide and monoxide, and other emissions are well below the national guidelines.
“Also, by producing enough energy to power 50,000 homes and heat 15,000 homes per year, many people will be turning off their boilers.”
Creating that amount of power will require 160,000 tonnes of material and only 30 per cent of waste put in black bin bags is usable - the rest is sent on to be recycled.
“We know people have been worried about the smell of rubbish being driven through streets and the effects on congestion,” said Mr Rolton, “but there is actually no reason to drive through Weedon Road at all, as we can use the access roads into the industrial estate.
“Also, as part of our commitment to Northamptonshire and through our work with Kilbride, we are looking into how we can put the nearby railway back into use so it can benefit everyone.”
Rolton Group are also working on a similar facility for Honda in South Marston in Swindon and the plan has been met with some positive feedback from the local authority and community, who petitioned fiercely against plans for a biomass plant in the area a month before.
The company have been working on the St James proposal for around a year and, if it is successful, it would take up to five years to be completed from January 2015. It would cost £100 million of private money to build the station, which includes a MRF recycling facility to sort through the collected waste material.
Rolton Kilbride would then be able to offer power and heat to residents in the town on a sparate ‘Northampton tariff’.
“We would first target areas with the highest level of fuel poverty,” said Mr Rolton.
“All in all we aim to lower the cost of energy, while also delivering a public income.”
Mr Rolton will meet this afternoon with members of Northampton Borough Council and St James Residents Association to begin the consultation process.