Wiltshire Publications

Firm assures ‘continual’ monitoring amid pollution concerns

AN AIR quality campaigner has raised concerns about the possibility of dangerous fumes that could come from Northacre Renewable Energy power station planned for Westbury, which is expected to be built in 2018.

David Levy, former local resident and chairman of campaign group The Air That We Breathe Network, says he fears that pollution problems similar to those caused by the cement works will return when the Northacre Renewable Energy plant is built on Stephenson Road.

Northacre – part of the Hills Group – secured planning permission for the plant in September last year. When built, it will produce electricity by heating treated household rubbish. Northacre say the site will comply with the limits set out in the Industrial Emissions Directive.

David Levy said, “Little has been done about monitoring the forthcoming emissions and about filters at this plant. The burning of plastics in the dried waste will produce poisons that will travel downwind towards schools and elderly retirement homes.

“Inflicting poor air quality on any town is unfair when an incinerating plant is planned and built with no consideration of the best filters needed to make the activity safe.

“The system tends towards allowing planning of the chimney ahead of discussing what filters to fit. The Environment Agency has a poor record of public interface when it comes to asking the right question. It is back to front regulation run by a council which puts business ahead of people’s health.”

The 22 megawatt power station is expected to operate 24 hours a day and will produce electricity via ‘gasification’; a process involving heating special fuels made from rubbish at temperatures up to 1,600ºC.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said, “Air emissions from a plant of this size would be regulated by an environmental permit issued by the Environment Agency.

“Before the Environment Agency  decides to issue an environmental permit, the operator would need to successfully demonstrate in their application how the emissions from  their proposed gasification plant could comply with the requirements of the Industrial Emissions Directive.

“To date the Environment Agency has not received an environmental permit application for the Northacre plant.”

Hills has told White Horse News that it is preparing to submit an environmental permit to the Environment Agency, and that building is expected to begin in 2018.

A spokesperson said, “A full environmental impact assessment addressing all emissions was conducted and submitted as part of the planning application approved in September 2015.  The planning permission is valid for five years and construction is anticipated to commence in 2018.

“Since being granted planning permission Northacre Renewable Energy has been engaging with project partners to finalise the technology supplier for the development.  Once this has been resolved Northacre Renewable Energy will submit an application to the Environment Agency for an Environmental Permit.

“Once the facility is operating, Northacre Renewable Energy and the Environment Agency will monitor emissions to ensure that these comply with the limits set out in the Industrial Emissions Directive. This will be stipulated in the environmental permit.

“Monitoring of emissions will be undertaken on a continual, real-time basis and it is anticipated that this will also be a requirement of the environmental permit.”

Details of the facility are available at www.hills-group.co.uk/northacre-energy.

To see the plans submitted to the council enter  14/12003/WCM in the planning search at www.wiltshire.gov.uk.