Wiltshire Publications

Power plant continues to generate concern

MORE issues of concern continue to be raised by local people following the announcement that a new power station is coming to Westbury.

Wiltshire Council last month granted permission for Hills Group to build a 22 megawatt renewable energy centre on Stephenson Road, which will generate electricity by heating treated household rubbish.

During consultation the application was objected to by Westbury Town Council, local residents and campaign groups, as well as the nearby Arla Foods, which later withdrew its objection.

Since the go-ahead for the power plant was given, more people have said they have concerns about the safety of the plant, and ask why the location in Westbury was chosen.

David Davis, a retired safety specialist from Westbury, has raised fears that the plant might not be sufficiently regulated. He said, “There needs to be some questions answered. Have Wiltshire Council had concise safety documentation provided by the company showing evidence of safety to support this decision?  The council have a duty of care to the population of Westbury in accordance with The Health and Safety Act of 1974 that ensures no one comes to any harm.

“A Hazard Analysis and a Risk Assessment plus an Hazard Operability Study must be in place, and the company must document measures they have taken to reduce risks to acceptable levels.

“If Wiltshire Council have failed to acquire all of the necessary safety documentation they could be accused of maladministration and we would have not learnt any lessons from the Lafarge Cement Works.”

Local woman Penelope Birnstingl said the plans have flown in the face of local views. “I was shocked and disappointed to learn that Wiltshire Council decided to allow this,” she said. “Even Westbury Town Council, which represents the views of the Westbury people, did not approve the proposal. So much for local democracy!

“I attended the original planning proposal meeting at Hills and was quite shocked at the cavalier attitude of some of the planners that I talked to.

“We are supposed to be reassured that they predict emissions  from the plant will be more or less non-toxic. Surely they should not be toxic, full stop?

“Lafarge’s chimney is known to have contributed to the ill health of the people, not to mention damage to property with the emissions from that plant. I find it astonishing that Wiltshire Council are happy to let this happen again under a new guise.

“I am all for recycling and green energy but  more thought should be given to the location of this power plant. We need more answers, more information and to be shown more respect. Westbury is becoming the black hole of Wiltshire. Hospital closed, services withdrawn, hundreds of new houses being built, but never any new facilities.”

Another local resident, Peter Gale,  argues that the old cement works would be a preferable location.

Peter said, “The ideal site for a new power plant would need to be away from an urban population, have good A road and rail access, and existing clean air scrubbers and high chimney.

“It’s all there at the Westbury cement works site – why look any further?”

To see the plans for Northacre Renewable Energy, enter  14/12003/WCM in the planning search at www.wiltshire.gov.uk