Plans to turn a warehouse into an “energy from waste” plant capable of burning 150,000 tonnes of rubbish a year were unanimously rejected by the Town Hall’s planning committee last night.
Embattled residents erupted into a spontaneous round of applause after long-running proposals to create a giant waste facility on Lock Street, Merton Bank, were finally knocked back.
Chief among councillors’ concerns was that they were being recommended to give the plan the go-ahead on the “probability” - not the certainty - that the plant’s emissions would be low-carbon.
Committee chairman Coun Stephen Glover said: “I’m worried about this being proposed next to housing. I want to know that it’s going to be low-carbon, not simply be told it’s more likely than not.”
Coun Charles Preston agreed: “I’m not happy with anything I’ve heard here tonight. There’s a school nearby and nobody can tell me what they plan to burn in there.”
Committee members also suggested that there was ample energy from waste capacity elsewhere.
Earlier, three local residents - Christine Green, Ronnie Waugh and Trevor McLaughlin - delivered passionate speeches in objection to Waste to Energy NW Ltd’s proposals.
Mrs Green said the 600-plus lorry journeys a week to and from the site would further disrupt an already fragile road infrastructure and argued that the creation of a 39-metre high chimney would devalue local properties.
Mr Waugh claimed the applicant had repeatedly failed to provide detailed information about their plans for the site.
He said: “The applicant has failed to provide evidence about the expected carbon emissions and there are solid grounds for refusal.”
Mr McLaughlin, speaking on behalf of the residents of Hinckley Road, pointed to the building collapses, odours, flies and fires already experienced at the site, which currently operates as a waste sorting site and handles around 37,000 tonnes of waste a year.
He argued: “This plan will not benefit the local area in any way.”
Local businessman Mike Denning, speaking on behalf of the applicant, admitted it was “a very difficult and emotive application” but argued that the creation of up to 60 jobs could not be overlooked.
Applicants John Williams and Brian Moore said that, if the plans were given the green light, they would invest up to £100m into St Helens.
Mr Moore told the meeting: “Our proposal does nothing but try to improve opportunities in the area. To refuse it would be forlorn.”