Environmentalists oppose plan for £150m ‘green’ power station

The 12-acre site, right, for a proposed new �150m power station on the east bank of the River Hull where household waste will be used to generate enough energy for more than 25,000 homes in Hull. PICTURE: TERRY CARROTT
The 12-acre site, right, for a proposed new �150m power station on the east bank of the River Hull where household waste will be used to generate enough energy for more than 25,000 homes in Hull. PICTURE: TERRY CARROTT
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ENVIRONMENTALISTS are objecting to plans for a £150m “green power” station that would use household waste to power more than 25,000 homes in Hull.

Hull-based engineering company C Spencer is seeking planning permission for the plant, a potential alternative to the failed incinerator at Saltend, at a meeting at Hull Council next week.

Friends of the Earth are objecting, claiming the station is a “slight improvement but not nearly enough” on plans for the incinerator, a long-running and controversial project which was finally ditched in January.

The plant will take 365,000 tonnes of commercial, industrial and municipal waste, as well as organic material, and will use processes including advanced gasification and anaerobic digestion, producing enough electricity for 25,000 homes as well as 900,000 therms of gas energy. In contrast the incinerator was originally due to burn up to 240,000 tonnes of household waste a year.

Member of Hull FoE Hilary Byers said they were concerned about compostable waste being diverted from current composting systems, and the fact there was no end user for the waste heat. She said: “We took advice as to whether it was an improvement on an incinerator or not from the national FoE and the advice we got was that it was a slight improvement but not nearly enough.”

The joint waste management contract run by Hull and East Riding Councils should go out to tender next year in anticipation of the end of the current waste contract with Waste Recycling Group in 2013.

Planners say the development “will form part of a bid for all or part of that contract...This is not a planning matter and the approval or refusal of this application should not be judged against any factors other than planning considerations.”

The application, which is recommended for approval, hasn’t generated the level of protest seen with the incinerator, with just two objectors, apart from FoE, a representative of Communities Against Toxins and a local business. The impact on travellers who live 20m away – as well as local businesses – has been raised.

A chimney stack 70m high forms part of the proposals on a 13-acre site at the former council-owned Dalton Street waste depot and the former ADM cocoa mills site on Cleveland Street. C Spencer says emissions, including thallium and cadmium, will have negligible impacts on health, “the same impact as three cars a minutes on an urban road”. Chief executive Charlie Spencer said the plant was designed around using local feedstock: “We have undertaken a massive amount of consultation, as a result the vast majority have been very positive about the plant, and that is reflected in the level of objections.”

The firm say the benefits include generating energy using new, cleaner technology; it will contribute up to 25.5MW towards Hull’s target of providing 39MW of renewable enegry to the national grid by 2021; and it will provide 60 permanent jobs and a research centre.

Planners say authorities in charge of public health and pollution have raised no objections.

John Dennis, a county councillor and spokesman for Hull and Holderness Opposing The Incinerator, which campaigned for years against the incinerator, said: “These are the technologies that Hoti has been promoting over the last six years and on a scale of one to 10 where 10 is landfill and incineration is 9, gasificiation and anerobic digestion are way down the list.”

A spokeswoman for Hull and East Riding Councils said: “This is a planning matter for a private company and is nothing to do with the councils’ current waste arrangements.”