Energy plant plan ‘will lower air quality on Ilkley Moor’

29 December 2016.......  Walkers make their way onto Ilkley Moor past the Cow and Calf in Ilkley as a sharp frost hit the region. Picture Tony Johnson.
29 December 2016....... Walkers make their way onto Ilkley Moor past the Cow and Calf in Ilkley as a sharp frost hit the region. Picture Tony Johnson.
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A planned 35 metre-high energy plant and incinerator poses an environmental threat to two Yorkshire beauty spots, campaigners have claimed.

Bradford councillors will next week rule on whether the proposed development on Airedale Road in Keighley, which has attracted strong local opposition, should be given the go-ahead, despite a previous application being refused in 2015.

East Riddlesden Hall, near Keighley, which hosts dozens of weddings a year.

East Riddlesden Hall, near Keighley, which hosts dozens of weddings a year.

The two main elements of the Halton Group’s ‘clean energy’ scheme are a refuse derived fuel power plant, where pre-treated waste is burned to convert the material into energy, ash and gasses, and a waste plastics melting plant.

But opponents say the 80 metre plume from the site’s incinerator will ruin the view from nearby Grade I-listed East Riddlesden Hall, and affect the air quality on Ilkley Moor, four miles away.

The National Trust, which owns East Riddlesden Hall, has also weighed in on the proposals, saying it is extremely concerned about the impact on its wedding business and the health of its staff.

A decision on the proposed facility, which Halton hopes will “generate energy, establshing a sustainable and pioneering process within the region”, will be made by Bradford council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee on February 9.

The visual impact, noise, traffic pollution and pollution from the site would be unacceptable.

One objection made to Bradford council

Permission was granted in 2014 by Bradford council for three plants, but a proposal the following year to increase the height and scale of the buildings while reducing the number of facilities from three to two was rejected by councillors.

The developer says the volume of visible buildings, the height of the main building and the overall area of the site have all been reduced, while the materials and colour of the buildings are different.

Planning officials have recommended that councillors approve the plans, but order the develop to pay £8,200 for trees to be planted at East Riddlesden Hall.

The report says the proposal “involves two different processes for the management of waste which produce energy (electricity) and fuels through a series of interlinked buildings, with the tallest building at 35m in height and associated stack (60m) to the eastern part of the site in the proximity of existing gasometres”.

It adds: “The effect of the proposal on the surrounding landscape, Grade I listed East Riddlesden Hall and residential properties has been assessed. On balance, the proposal is considered acceptable, and provides overall benefits and public benefits that outweigh the identified harm.”

MP Philip Davies and residents in eight local properties were among those objecting to the plans, and an online petition with more than 3,000 signatures was received.

Among the hundreds of representations received by the council, most concerns were raised about the impact on health caused by emissions and impact on the landscape and heritage of the area.

One objector wrote: “The visual impact, noise, traffic pollution and pollution from the site would be unacceptable. To build such a facility at the bottom of a valley, surrounded by people’s homes and schools, is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.”

The campaign group Aire Valley Against Incineration was formed by Keighley residents Jane Stone and Sarah Nash-Myers in opposition to the plans.

They said in a press statement: “The prominent chimney stack of the incinerator is to be located 500m from East Riddlesden Hall the National Trust’s Grade 1 listed building.

“The chimney and its plume would be clearly visible to the 40,000 annual visitors to the hall; destroying the picturesque backdrop to photographs taken during the 100 weddings hosted each year.

“The planned incinerator is only four miles as the crow flies from the iconic Ilkley Moor. Air quality modelling by campaigners has shown the invisible cloud of fine toxic particulates from the plume could regularly settle over Ilkley Moor.”

But in its report, Bradford council’s planning department said: “On balance, the potential failure to comply, in part, with the residential visual amenity policies is not considered sufficient enough to outweigh the benefits the proposed development would bring.

“There is also potential in the future to achieve the aspirations of the Developer and for the proposed development to facilitate substantial public benefits - that is to revive the Dalton Mills area, provide Combined Heat and Power and bring the headquarters of the main operator of the plant to Keighley by the provision of Grade A office space in a highly accessible location.

“Additionally, the allocation of the site for employment uses (including industrial use) and the existence of an extant permission on the site cannot be ignored. The site is a suitable site for a waste facility.”