Controversial Corby waste plant approved

Campaigner Lee Forster spoke against the plans.
Campaigner Lee Forster spoke against the plans.

Controversial plans for a waste plant in Corby have been approved.

Despite strong opposition from local residents, schools and a local council Northamptonshire County Council’s planning committee approved the Corby limited’s application to build a large waste to energy centre on the Willowbrook East industrial estate in Corby.

In passing the application a number of councillors expressed their unhappiness with the scheme, but said their ‘hands were tied’ as it fitted with local and national planning policy. It will also fill a capacity gap that the county council has in terms of dealing with waste.

The decision means that work can now commence on building the waste plant – which will include two 75m high chimneys and stand taller than Westminster Abbey.

It will incinerate waste from across the region and then convert it into energy – which could be supplied to the national grid or a private wire network. Up to 260,000 tonnes of waste could be processed each year.

There were a number of speakers against the plan at the five-hour meeting at County Hall in Northampton today, including three serving county councillors from Corby and local residents.

Artist impression of the incinerator with its two tall 75m chimneys.

Artist impression of the incinerator with its two tall 75m chimneys.

Priors Hall Park Ruben Carol, who has put his house up for sale because of the waste plant plans, gave an impassioned speech about the possible health impacts of the emissions from the chimneys.

He said: “This is about profit over the health of the people. I struggle to see why this is even being discussed in the 21st century.”

His carer Sue Rawling said:”One of the flaws is it creates a need for waste. The monster needs feeding.”

Another Priors Hall resident Steve Esler, who has also sold his house because of the development, said there will be a mass exodus from the housing development, which stands just half a mile away from the site.

Despite supporting the building of the Priors Hall Development – which when complete will have 5,000 homes – Corby Council did not put in an objection to the development. East Northamptonshire council had put in a strong objection based on environmental and heritage impact grounds.

Previous consent for a smaller waste to energy plant, which used a different type of energy conversion process – was granted in September 2016. This had been due to run out at the start of this week but had become active after some work had started on the Shelton Road site.

Various members of the committee expressed their reservations about the scheme.

Cllr Andrew Kilbride said he was concerned about the health implications and the fact it was so close to 5,000 homes and schools.

However Public Health England said it had no objection to the scheme and no significant concerns ‘providing that the applicant takes all appropriate measures to prevent or control pollution.”

The environment agency – which will grant the environmental permit to operate the site – also had no objections along with the Highways Agency.

Corby Limited’s technical consultant Ian Crummack said that a study carried out into a causal link between energy recovery centres and birth defects found there was not any evidence. He said if anyone had any evidence they should bring it to him.

He said to the councillors: “I have no personal desire to work in a sector that leaves a legacy of harm.”

Cllr Andy Mercer responded by saying that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Mr Crummack also told the meeting that the risk of the plant exploding was ‘minute’.

The application was passed with more than 40 conditions, including that waste cannot be taken to or away from the site between 11pm and 6am.

After the meeting Cllr John McGhee called the planning committee ‘cowards’ and Weldon resident Ann Wallington said it was ‘planning on the hoof’.