Wiltshire Publications

Waste company plans trench from Westbury to Frome

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Northacre Renewable Energy, the company set up by Hills Group to construct an ATT gasification facility in Westbury, has now submitted a planning application for an 11-kilometre ‘underground grid connection’.  

A trench would be constructed to carry electricity cable from the proposed ATT site at Northacre Trading Estate to the Southern Electric Power Distribution substation in Frome.  This is apparently the nearest suitable connection point to the national grid.  

Members of Westbury’s Gasification Action Group (WGAG) are taking up the challenge of examining the proposals in order to send comments to the Wiltshire Council public consultation.  They are urging people to take a look at the maps and reports under reference 19/02481/FUL and submit objections on any areas of concern.  This must be done by the closing date of 26th April.  

WGAG member Margaret Cavanna said ‘Most incinerators are apparently built very close to grid connections.  However,  NRE’s proposed siting of the ATT at Northacre requires a long trench to be dug alongside rail lines, across roads, agricultural land and watercourses.  Just one more indication that it’s inappropriate to build the plant here in the first place.  

“The energy to be produced cannot even be called ‘renewable’ as the company has not, as far as we know, applied to the Environment Agency for R1 status for the process they intend to use if the ATT were built.  Without that confirmation that their technology would meet sustainability criteria, it cannot be considered any better than landfill in environmental terms.  (That would mean it’s at the bottom of the government’s ‘waste hierarchy’ which requires councils and waste companies to prioritise waste reduction, reuse and recycling over incineration and landfill.)

“The route for the grid connection takes the cable from Westbury, through Brook Farm, Fairwood (Dilton Marsh), Berkley and Standerwick, and reports indicate the potential for both archeological and ecological impact.  Whilst there are statements that any risks would be reduced, managed or mitigated, we don’t believe these should be taken at face value.  It all needs to be scrutinised, preferably by those with relevant expertise. The new application is of course bad news, given the situation we’re already in, waiting to hear whether Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, will agree to call in Wiltshire Council’s January decision to approve the ATT.  If the call in goes ahead, the Planning Inspectorate has said they are likely to combine it with the Public Inquiry already due to run for a week or so from 24th September, to consider NRE’s appeal against the council’s refusal of their previous ATT proposal last July.  

“It’s a complicated situation and as always, we’d welcome anyone who’d like to join us in fighting all this!  Email us on westburygag@gmail.com and see Westbury Gasification Action Group on facebook.  See also westburygag on Twitter.’