Developer vows to persuade council to back controversial £200m Yorkshire Energy Park

The 125-acre site between Hull and Hedon is currently a habitat for protected birds
The 125-acre site between Hull and Hedon is currently a habitat for protected birds
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Developers have vowed they will try to persuade councillors to back the controversial £200m Yorkshire Energy Park project, despite a damning planning report from East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

The development, which would include a business park and data centre as well as a power plant in a 215-acre area between Hull and Hedon, has been recommended for refusal by council planners who said there was no proof it would create the 4,000 jobs promised.

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Developer Sewell said it would try to persuade East Riding of Yorkshire Council to back the plans in a meeting next week.

Project director, Claire Harrison said: “We fully respect and understand that officers have to follow a process and the local authority plans to develop these reports.

“However, this is exactly why it is ultimately a committee decision and we hope, through our presentation on Monday, we can demonstrate how the Yorkshire Energy Park is a deliverable, immensely supported proposal with vast community, economic and social benefits.”

The council cited a number of problems with the application, including the risk of flooding from rivers and the sea, environmental concerns and economic issues.

The report said while Sewell had a track record in delivering jobs and recruiting local people, the claim that the site might create 4,000 jobs was not substantiated.

In the council report, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said the site lies within a major wildlife zone which is the habitat for protected birds like curlews and lapwings.

The organisation said: “We requested that East Riding of Yorkshire Council take a strategic approach to considering developmental locations and mitigation/compensation with regards to [protected] birds, these sites in combination provide a major concern for the continued functionality of the Humber for these species.

“Overall, we still have major concerns over the ability to create suitable alternate habitat for [protected] bird species and the cumulative impacts of development along the Humber Estuary which have not been adequately assessed.”

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The damning planning committee report also cited concerns about “unjustified harm” to local heritage sites and the possibility that the site would essentially merge the historic settlements of Hull and Hedon.

CLA (Country Land and Business Association) rural surveyor Robert Frewen said: “Given the widespread support for the project, this decision seems rather odd. In a time of great uncertainty, the creation of stable employment and inward investment must be at the top of any councils’ agenda and the CLA urges the authority to reconsider the decision or at least to provide better details as to the reason for refusal.”

However, local campaigner Tony Hodge, who has lived in nearby Preston for 30 years, said East Yorkshire residents had a number of issues with the plans, which were first put forward three years ago.

He said one of the major objections to the proposal was the location of the site, especially when there was a more suitable site adjacent to the proposed land that is already earmarked as a development site by the council.

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“The site they were planning to build on is locally known as Hedon Aerodrome, which at the moment is a nice environment for birds and wildlife. Why build on this site when there’s a better site across the road that’s cheaper and easier to develop? I’m all for development in this area but it’s in the wrong place.”

Another issue was that a community sports centre would need to be demolished to make way for the development and though another sports centre would be built elsewhere, it was a “very short sighted” approach.

“They’ve offered to give the organisations who use the gym a 10-year lease free at a new site, but what happens after that?” he added.