Row heating up over new power plant scheme

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.

A ST Helens grandfather is concerned that plans to turn a warehouse into a waste-burning power plant could lead to toxic emissions being spewed out across town.

Ron Waugh says he is worried that the installation of a waste “incinerator” at the former Ravenhead Glass warehouse on Lock Street could have negative health implications in the area.

Not only does Mr Waugh, 60, live nearby, off Laffak Road, his two-year-old granddaughter does too.

He said: “This is a purely speculative proposal from a company that just wants to make money. My concern is about the local environment and the emissions that will be spewed out across the area.

“Reports suggest that incinerator emissions can cause cardiovascular conditions, respiratory problems and an increase in hospital admissions. Dioxins particularly concern me - they are known to cause cancer.

“Why would the company behind this want to go to the expense of creating a 160ft-high chimney at the site if there were no concerns about air pollution? If there were no negative health effects then they wouldn’t have to do that, would they?”

But Guy Bailey, the managing director of Cogen (CEW) Energy Ltd, who are behind the plans, 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 on 46 sites worldwide, he added, including in Scotland and Iceland.

Mr Bailey said: “Incineration is the use of oxygen to burn waste. What we will be doing is heating the waste up to 200 degrees so it internally combusts.

“It is the gases created via that process that are collected to produce super-heated steam to drive the turbine and create electricity.

“The majority of the emissions will effectively be steam and the Environment Agency will be fully involved in the continuous monitoring of the plant.

“The chimney is likely to be about 10 metres lower than the initial plan too.”

He added: “Several lanfill sites within 20 miles of St Helens are set to close in the next three years so we see this as a local solution to a local problem. The plant will ensure that waste is not left lying around for any length of time.

“It will also benefit local commercial electricity users who are seeking to increase their usage but cannot get the capacity from Manweb.”