Plans for £200m Yorkshire Energy Park approved - but opponents say fight will go on

Opponents pledged to fight on after councillors narrowly voted in favour of a controversial £200 million business park, earmarked for a former aerodrome near Hull.

Artist's impression of the development site between Hull and Hedon
Artist's impression of the development site between Hull and Hedon

East Riding councillors voted six to five on Thursday in favour of the plans, overturning a recommendation for refusal by planning officers.

The decision now looks set to be called in by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick, as a departure from the Local Plan, and could result in a public inquiry.

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Developers say the Yorkshire Energy Park will create more than 4,000 jobs and offers “fantastic potential” for south-west Holderness and the wider region.

The greenfield site at Hedon - home to endangered curlews

But many residents are concerned about traffic and the impact on wildlife, including endangered curlews, as well as the erosion of the ancient town of Hedon’s identity, which they fear will be consumed by nearby Hull.

Like the local community, the committee was divided with some believing the scheme, which includes a 24 hectare business park, data centre, education, training and sports facilities and two 20MW gas-fired plants, will a major boost for the local economy.

Coun Ben Weeks said while “acutely aware” the plans went against the Local Plan, he believed “the local area, the economy and young people” had to come first.

Coun David Rudd told the committee: "This is a really big application, but there is so much going for it.

Aerial artist's impression of the 200 million development

"I think we would miss out if we didn't accept this outline plan."

However fellow Tory and planning committee chairman Gary McMaster said the jobs figures could be “vastly overinflated”.

And he said while a “slight tweak” to the Local Plan was acceptable, “blowing a hole” in it was a “step too far.”

Coun John Whittle said those who voted for “will rue the day” and would remember the day “when you find your community threatened by speculative development.”

Another image of the site at Hedon

The RSPB and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust had objected as the fields are an important foraging ground for curlews.

However plans to create wetland habitat at Thorngumbald as mitigation four miles away were approved, despite concerns by Coun John Dennis that the birds would take off once disturbed “into the blue yonder and we will not hear their cries ever again.”

Managing director of developers Sewell Group Paul Sewell said he was delighted with the “decision for young people”, but which came with the “heavy responsibility to deliver for the area.”

And he denied that it was “speculative”, adding: “Legal and General wouldn’t be funding it. We would not be involved and we wouldn’t have seven end users.”

Coun Dennis said the decision had been as “close as close can be.” “It’s just a battle - the war is still to be done,” he said.

It comes ahead of the planning committee hearing, possibly in January, a much larger application for ABP’s Humber International Enterprise Park close by.

The scheme - which it is claimed could create 7,655 jobs - includes a park and ride. Councillors were told the schemes were complimentary and not competing.