Fight goes on against Yorkshire Energy Park

RESIDENTS opposing a £200m industrial park on the last remaining piece of greenspace between an ancient market town and Hull will hand in a petition with a thousand names this week.

Hedon Aerodrome - valuable greenspace many in Hedon are trying to protect

There has been a concerted public relations campaign in favour of the Yorkshire Energy Park at Hedon, east of Hull, with business and council leaders expressing support for the plans which include a gas-fired power station and data centre, as well as an education campus, research, storage and distribution, and relocated sports facilities.

But prominent local councillor John Dennis said: “They haven’t acknowledged local opposition or local communities and we intend making a noise about it.”

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The petition will be handed in to County Hall, Beverley, on Thursday. A planning committee date has not yet been given.

Artist's impression of Yorkshire Energy Park

Coun Dennis said they had the backing of eight local town and parish councils against the proposals for the site, which is not allocated for development in the East Riding Local Plan.

Opponents say there is a more suitable site, hundreds of acres owned by Associated British Ports, which is allocated for development just across the road.

There have also been objections from Natural England and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust as 200 curlews, the largest European wading birds, whose numbers are in sharp decline, forage on the fields, which are owned by Hull Council.

The Humber estuary’s birdlife is protected by a raft of legislation and developers have offered to create wetland as mitigation near Thorngumbald.

Over eight per cent of the Humbers entire population of curlews forage on the fields

But in their latest letter Natural England asks for further information about the proposed site, adding: “Planning permission should not be granted when uncertainty remains as to whether functioning habitat can be created.”

In a submission last month YWT also said they would uphold their objection until mitigation “is proved to be functional.”

Coun Dennis, who led a campaign in 2014 that won a resounding “no” vote to Hull’s expansion into the East Riding, said: “The applicants have said that there is no suitable alternative land in the area. That’s rubbish because there is land just across the road - 453 acres - which is allocated and it already has mitigation in place.”

An online petition gathered more than 300 signatures in under 24 hours.

The proposed layout of Yorkshire Energy Park

Resident Kat Yearsley said her main concern was if the plans turned out to be economically unviable and the field “was trashed for nothing” and ended up as housing.

She said: “Greenspace is so precious - it is wonderful walking across there in Springtime and hearing the skylarks. What about the legacy of the children who are never going to experience wildlife? It’s also about the loss of Hedon’s individual identity - it is older than Hull and that will all just be consumed by the urban spread that is Hull.”

Local Tony Hodge added: “Traffic is bad enough as it is. Warehousing and distribution should go in on the other side of town, away from Castle Street. People are against it because it is getting rid of the green belt which differentiates Hedon from Hull, and a lot of people are concerned about flooding.”

In their latest release, Yorkshire Energy Park said Hedon Traders Association was backing the plans.

Developers say the plans will create 4,480 jobs, including indirect jobs.

The proposals also have the backing of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, and companies including E.ON, SSE and Dell.