Northampton council refuse to go back on power station decision

The power station would use waste collected from Northampton households
The power station would use waste collected from Northampton households

Northampton Borough Council have refused a bid to review its decision to allow a new power station to be built in the town, despite claims from councillors there has not been enough consultation.

The request to ‘call in’ the decision came from Northamptonshire Liberal Democrats, who claim that the borough council have agreed to sell the land and go ahead with whatever plans are made by the buyers to construct an ‘eco-friendly’ power station on part of the Westbridge Depot on St James Mill Road.

A spokespman for the Lib Dems said: “The borough council have already made a legally-binding agreement to allow the power station company to build provided that they come up with the resources to do so, without consulting residents and businesses in the area.

“But St James is already below target for clean air and the roads already have problems with traffic.

“These problems will increase with the building of the power station and no work has been done by the borough council to ensure it will be manageable.

“The site is also next to a petrol depot and nothing has been done to investigate whether a power station here would be safe.”

But a spokesman for the borough council responded: “We have only given first option on the land to a power company, which means that we are legally bound not to offer it to any other company or demand more money for it.

“This means that the company have two years to conduct a full investigation into the impact that the station would have on the area and come to us with a viable and profitable plan.

“If it satisfies criteria for environment, traffic, local businesses and so on, we will decide whether to award planning permission, as with any other plan.”

However, concerns have also been raised by other political parties in the county about how environmentally friendly the potential power station - which would turn non-recyclable waste from Northampton households into energy - is likely to be.

Former Northampton MP and Green Party member Tony Clarke, said: “The council told us that power would not be produced through incineration, which burns material and releases fumes. However, the power station would use a process called ‘gasification’ which heats the material to a high temperature and legally comes under the umbrella of incineration.

“These stations use a huge amount of power to run, compared with how much they produce. It just gives the borough council an easy way of dealing with its responsibility of organsing recycling and waste disposal and collecting rubbish in this way is cheaper than paying landfill tax.

“Furthermore, the amount of waste material needed will have lorries roaring up and down Weedon Road to feed this monster, which will have an impact on residents and businesses.”

The Lib Dem spokespman added: “The emissions that will be produced by a power station using gasificiation may have less greenhouse effects that other processes, but the power it produces won’t be enough to power half of Northampton. Benefits will be neutral at best.”

Secretary of St James Residents Association, Graham Croucher, told the Chron: “As a group we have discussed the plan at length and we feel we need more information than we have been given.

“We won’t just accept a plan on the basis of what the council tell us and allow it to be dumped here. Council leader David Mackintosh promised the station has to be right for St James before it is built and we will hold him to that.”