Proposals for waste to energy plant to power ‘a sixth’ of Northampton move a step closer

The gasification plant would be situated in Northampton's Enterprise Zone.
The gasification plant would be situated in Northampton's Enterprise Zone.

Plans for a new “waste to energy” plant in St James could be submitted in early in 2016 after Northampton Borough Council agreed to grant an option on the land to the developers looking to build it.

The authority has agreed to hand a two-year option for the lease of around five acres of land within the former Westbridge Depot to a joint venture between Northamptonshire-based Rolton Group and Caring Community Energy Company, at Wednesday night’s cabinet meeting.

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.

However, members of the opposition Labour Group on the borough council spoke out about their concerns during Wednesday nigh’s cabinet meeting.

Councillor Rufia Ashraf (Lab, St James) said: “I am worried about the traffic movements. There needs to be a full-scale traffic report.

“The developer needs to deal with all the issues raised in the report.”

A paper to the cabinet meeting states the developers will look to “conduct more comprehensive site investigation surveys at their cost and ultimately submit a planning application by the New Year of 2016 as well as a window for contracting with the National Grid.”

When the news of the power plant first emerged last year, several St James residents said they were concerned about the pollution levels a gasification plant would produce.

But Graham Croucher, of the St James Residents’ Association, who is also on the panel for the Caring Community Energy Company company looking to develop the plant, said work is being done to see how its traffic impact and emissions can be mitigated. It is expected the plant would see around 35 lorry movements there every day.

He said: “When the consultation period comes about we urge everyone to have their say.”

Also when the scheme was first announced, it was stated the plant could provide cheaper energy for residents in the St James area.

However, chair of Caring Community Energy Company Mr Binley said plans to provide heat to nearby homes would take longer to implement as there would need to be a lot of “infrastructural works” required.

He said the power plant is necessary because Northampton’s energy grid is at “full capacity”.

“The first important thing to say is that this is a waste to energy scheme, but it is not an incinerator,” he added.

“It will produce about a sixth of the town’s energy needs.”