Wiltshire Publications

‘This is a disaster for Westbury’ MP slams latest plans for waste incinerator

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LOCAL MP, Andrew Murrison and members of the public have warned that the town must fight the changed plans for a waste plant in Westbury.

Andrew Murrison has said the plans would be ‘a disaster for Westbury’ while residents have raised a number of concerns including increased pollution, extra lorries on local roads, the close proximity of the proposed plant to new houses and that there are more environmentally friendly ways to deal with waste.

An extraordinary meeting of Westbury Town Council’s highways, planning and development meeting was held online on 15th July to find out what local people felt about the latest plans from Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd (NREL), due to be submitted this month. 

The company, in a joint venture with The Hills Group, has changed its plans for a gasification waste plant, and has drawn up new plans for an energy from waste facility in Westbury. 

Speakers at the meeting and residents who sent in messages spoke about their concern of the type of waste burning, the safety of emissions and other pollutants, the extra lorries on local roads (waste would be transported from locations up to two hours away), the scheme not benefitting local jobs or supply of electricity, the unsightly building and close proximity to new housing developments and asked why we are not looking for more environmentally friendly ways of reducing waste.

‘Something of a ruse’

Joining the meeting on his ipad, local MP Andrew Murrison warned, “This is a disaster for Westbury. I support the town council in opposing this application.”

NREL and The Hills Group held a virtual community presentation on 7th July, saying they were unable to hold a public meeting because of Covid-19 restriction. The company explained that the revised plans moved away from  gasification technology, instead returning to a conventional moving grate technology. 

Andrew Murrison said he “suspected the original application was something of a ruse and the intention was for an old style incinerator.” He said the company’s traffic figures need to be challenged. “They say 11 extra lorries [increased from the previous application], but it will be more than that,” he said.

The MP said the company has mentioned a change in environmental limits, but added “I’m not sure what these are.” 

Another reason the company says it is changing the waste technology is because of a change in economics, with reference to post-Brexit conditions. But Andrew Murrison said, “I think it is a load of old nonsense.” He said the company had been using sleight of hand  when it came to planning.

The MP said, “You can be sure that I will oppose this. I will do everything in my power to ensure that this application fails.”

Flawed and misleading

At the meeting former Westbury mayor, David Jenkins questioned the timing of the planning application in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis saying, “There are many thousands of residents who do not know that this proposal is actually going to happen. There are many new residents and families coming to live here in the area who are totally unaware of this.”

Chair of the meeting, cllr Ian Cunningham said that the town council is aware that there is much interest in the topic. Unfortunately, he said, the  Covid-19 situation means that access to council meetings are restricted and the meeting was called to hear local people’s views. He said, “NREL were invited to speak today, but we have not heard from them.”

The plans have been vigorously opposed by local campaign group Westbury Gasification Action Group. They say many of the arguments put forward for the plant are flawed and that some of the figures, in particular those for HGV movements, are ‘extremely misleading’. And they have questioned the validity of the virtual public consultation, saying that Northacre Renewable Energy chose the questions they responded to themselves, with  several questions submitted in advance being left out.

2 Responses to ‘This is a disaster for Westbury’ MP slams latest plans for waste incinerator

  1. David L Davis

    July 23, 2020 at 11:56 am

    The comment by Andrew Murrison MP was spot on when he said the company had been using sleight of hand with regard to planning this applies to Wiltshire Council also In 2018 the Planning Committee rejected planning permission because the location of this plant would be a health risk however Wilshire Council wanted to grant planning permission so they banned the reason for rejection health and said this was a matter for the Environment Agency The reason HEALTH was caused by the plants location which is a PLANNING MATTER and should have been changed from health to location So the committee had to choose another reason for rejection to be recorded and chose building size This allowed the company to apply again for planning on building size and they were able to gain planning in 2019 for a false reason

  2. Mr maurice

    July 24, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    Add all the extra HGVs diverted from Bath and we have a massive pollution problem. Traffic is heavy now and not everyone is back to work. We are the dumping ground for housing, now rubbish and nothing is being done to facilitate infrastructure. Westbury is slowly dying. No banks, empty premises, trading estates have units standing empty, nothing to bring in tourists or keep locals spending in the area.
    We have takeaways, estate agents, charity shops, hairdressers but only one Doctors surgery. 3 small supermarkets.
    It is time the building is stopped and the money spent on improving the area.