Corby secondary school calls for urgent review of waste-to-energy incinerator plant due to health fears

The trust that runs Corby Business Academy is very concerned about a possible health impact of the proposed energy recovery centre.
The trust that runs Corby Business Academy is very concerned about a possible health impact of the proposed energy recovery centre.

An academy schools chain has called for an urgent review of the Corby incinerator plan because of health fears and has slammed the proposal as ‘staggering’.

The Brooke Weston Trust, which runs the Corby Academy Business Academy, says there has been a lack of community consultation about the plans to build the huge waste to energy plant close to the Priors Hall Park housing estate, where the school is situated.

The trust, which is led by Dr Andrew Campbell, sent in a letter to East Northamptonshire Council citing a large number of concerns including emissions from the chimneys, the high number of lorries that will be going to and from the plant and the impact on air quality.

It is also very concerned that three schools – Gretton Primary School, Corby Business Academy and Priors Hall Primary School – which collectively educate 1700 children are ‘within close proximity of the forecast emissions plume’,

The facility will work by incinerating waste through a combustion technology process and then converting it into electricity . The proposed plant would be able to process 260,000 tonnes of waste per year. The applicants say the heat generated could also be used in a district heating system, although a scheme has not yet been proposed.

A summary of the letter which was reviewed by East Northamptonshire councillors listed a number of bullet points outlining their major fears.

The tallest building will be 39m high and the two chimneys will stand 75m tall.

The tallest building will be 39m high and the two chimneys will stand 75m tall.

They said: “Concerned that there is insufficient reassurance that the proposed facility will not cause deterioration of the local air quality. The forecast plume plot shows that the plume will, with prevailing wind, cause spread over local schools.

“The developer must provider categoric assurance that the emissions from the incinerator will be within legal limits. However there is an increasing number of ‘clean air’ studies that report the significant detrimental impact on the health of children living next to a main road, let alone within the plume spread of an incinerator plant.

“As school-based professionals we are acutely aware of the incidence of asthma amongst children and find these proposals staggering.

It continues: “The language in the non-technical report downplays the impact of emissions.

“It is widely acknowledged that incinerator chimneys emit organic substances such as dioxins, heavy metals such as cadium and mercury, dust particles and acid gases such as sulphur dioxide and hydrochloric acid.”

The letter said that these substances can potentially have a significant impact on health including such as lung and kidney disease, hormonal effects, reduced immune capicity and associations with causes of cancer.

The school also wants the Devon based developer Corby Limited to submit evidence about their assertions made about the relative safety of the scheme.

Last night (Aug 21) East Northamptonshire council’s planning committee decided to strongly object to the incinerator plan because of environmental and heritage concerns. The council is just a consultee in the matter, which will be finally decided by Northamptonshire County Council in the coming months.

Despite a number of concerns from elected councillors Corby Council has not put in a formal objection to the scheme.

Last night Corby’s MP, Tom Pursglove, called on Corby Council, which is not opposing the development to think again.

He said on social media: “Quite rightly, I understand that @ENCouncil have formally objected to this proposal in very strong terms tonight. Surely @CorbyBC will want to review this, think again, and represent residents and environmental considerations by formally objecting too?”

The scheme is being brought forward by Devon based Corby Limited. It says the waste burning centre will bring £180m into the local economy. The council also stands to collect around £900,000 per year in business rates.

The site is on a former tip site from the steelworks and was contaminated, although it was cleaned up in the early 2000s.

In its consultation response to the county council Corby Council says the Shelton Road site is still ‘potentially at risk of being contaminated’ but the site ‘is considered suitable for use’. It recommends a remediation strategy be asked of the developer if the planning application is approved.

Ten years ago Corby Council lost a legal battle fought by a number of Corby families whose children had been born with birth defects caused by toxic waste transported across the town during a clean up of the steel works dump sites in the 1980s and 1990s.