Row over power plant gathers pace

Residents Eric Bellard and Ronnie Waugh at the site of the proposed incinerator off Lock Street, Merton Bank, St Helens.
Residents Eric Bellard and Ronnie Waugh at the site of the proposed incinerator off Lock Street, Merton Bank, St Helens.
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A CROSS-PARTY campaign has been launched against controversial plans to create a waste-burning power plant just 300 metres from a St Helens primary school.

Political figures this week echoed grandfather Ron Waugh’s concerns about plans to turn a former Ravenhead Glass warehouse into a waste “incinerator”.

Mr Waugh, 60, fears that emissions spewed out of a new 160ft chimney could have a negative health impact on people living nearby - including his two-year-old granddaughter.

Not only is the Lock Street site close to homes around Merton Bank Road, Islands Brow, Markfield Crescent and Hinckley Road - it is also within 300 metres of Merton Bank Primary School.

Dave Watts MP has called on the company behind the plans, Cogen (CEW) Energy Ltd, to give residents a second chance to air their views.

The MP for St Helens North said: “A consultation meeting was held about these plans just before Christmas - but not all residents were notified. I’ve now asked the local authority to ensure that a proper consultation takes place. All residents should have the chance to express their views.

“I’ve also had various reports about poor performance from the company behind the plans - and there was a fire at their site last week - so I’m not sure they should be able to expand their operations in close proximity to homes and schools.”

Lib Dem town centre councillor John Beirne agreed: “Nobody wants this near to a school, a newly-built hostel, houses and the Fingerpost shopping area. The area has suffered enough.”

And Moss Bank councillor Carole Kavanagh, who is working with several Laffak residents to fight the plans, added: “This should be sited as far away from properties as possible so that the impact on local residents can be kept to a bare minimum.”

But Guy Bailey, the managing director of Cogen (CEW) Energy Ltd, insists the plan is for gasification - not incineration - and that, if approved, the plant could end up benefitting local people.

Similar plants are already in operation at 46 other sites worldwide, he added, including in Scotland and Iceland.

Mr Bailey said: “We would be quite happy to hold another consultation meeting with decision makers and the local community to openly discuss the plans.

“We accept that there has been a problem with fly infestation and odour at the existing site, but having this plant next door would ensure that all waste is processed within 48 hours.

“Of the 106 objection letters we have received, 30 per cent were concerned about existing operations, 22 per cent with HGV traffic and 17 per cent with flew emissions.

“We have evidence that HGV traffic in the area will actually be reduced and that most of the emissions will effectively be steam.”