September 17, 2008

Green Row As Pounds 330m Power Plant Approved


A CONTROVERSIAL pounds 330m power plant fuelled by waste will be built near the banks of the Mersey, despite claims it will create a "25-year nightmare" for the people of Liverpool and Runcorn.

Ineos Chlor will be allowed to construct the combined heat and power station, with a capacity of 100 mw, at its chemical plant in Runcorn.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks made the decision to allow the development despite an ongoing campaign of opposition from those living in the shadow of the plant.

Ineos Chlor is the world's largest chlorinated paraffins producer, as well as making chemicals for paints, lubricants, sealants and adhesives at sites across Europe and chlorine-based products. The company spends in the region of pounds 100m-a-year on power generation and the heart of the Runcorn plant, about the size of a football pitch, uses the same amount of electricity as the entire city of Liverpool.

The new Ineos Chlor plant will have the capacity to take waste from Merseyside, Halton, Cheshire, Warrington and Manchester.

Mr Wicks said: "It's important that we move forward in tackling the UK's waste problem.

"The proposed plant will make use of local waste for the production of energy, rather than contributing to the UK's landfill.

"While acknowledging that this proposal was controversial locally, this approval takes into account the concerns that were raised.

"The key concern of impact on public health will be properly addressed through planning conditions at the construction stage and when the station is operational, through the environmental permitting regime regulated by the Environment Agency."

But Jeff Meehan, of the Halton Action Group Against the Incinerator, said Halton Council had "sold residents down the river" in failing to demand a public inquiry.

Mr Meehan said: "They have condemned the people of Halton, Warrington and parts of Liverpool, depending on the wind direction, to 25 years of misery."

Campaigners had last year unsuccessfully called on the council to demand a public inquiry into the scheme.

The anti-incinerator campaigners claim there is a risk of health- damaging dioxins being released into the atmosphere, whereas the industry maintains the plants are far cleaner than earlier versions.

Yesterday, a statement issued by Ineos Chlor following the minister's announcement said the company was pleased that the Minister had approved the application.

It continued: "We have clearly demonstrated, in line with Government policy, that the plant will form a vital part of the North-West's waste management solution by allowing local authorities in the region to significantly reduce the amount of household waste sent to landfill, compliant with National and European requirements.

"Furthermore, and equally as important to us, the Energy from Waste CHP plant will contribute directly to the security of energy supplies to our Runcorn site operations, and allow us to reduce the impact of rising energy costs on our business, thereby helping to underpin the many thousands of jobs that are dependent on the site.

"We are pleased also the Minister is satisfied that the proposed development will not pose a threat to human health or the environment; which is consistent with the expert opinion provided as part of the application process.

"However, we recognise that, for some local residents, concerns will remain and we are absolutely committed to providing information about the development as it progresses."

Planning permission was granted in January this year for a 400,000-tonne processing plant at Eastham, in Wirral, which will break down waste and use the gas to produce electricity, despite strong local opposition.

Operator Biossence has since submitted various amendments to its original plan which are still being considered.

And the decision comes just 24 hours after the Daily Post revealed 11 sites on Merseyside which have been earmarked as most likely to host two major new public sector energy producing waste incinerators and mechanical treatment plants.

Public consultation on these is expected to start in November.

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