ANGRY South Tyneside residents have expressed dismay after the go-ahead was given for a new renewable energy plant on green belt land.
The council’s planning committee yesterday agreed an application for an anaerobic digestion facility at Wardley Disposal Point, in Follingsby Lane, West Boldon.
The plant will take food waste and use it to produce electricity on site to supply the National Grid.
The application came from London-based Tamar Energy, which is planning to build 44 similar facilities across the country, with the aim of producing enough energy to power 200,000 homes within five to seven years.
The committee heard from Simon Greaves, development manager for the applicant, who revealed that the plant would create between 50 to 100 construction jobs and five to 10 permanent staff when operational. But the application did not find favour with local residents who live 500 metres from the plant site in and around Follonsby Terrace – 15 of whom signed a petition expressing concern at the “impact of the proposal on the local environment, especially the potential for the generation of noise, dust and offensive odours”.
Speaking after the meeting, one of the opponents, Wendy Keenleyside, 62, expressed her disappointment at the committee’s decision, and claimed there had a “lack of consultation” over the plan.
She said: “I am very, very disappointed because people on the Wardley and Leam Lane estates do not know anything about this.
“It’s just disgusting that the green belt is going to be used and the wildlife corridor is being disrupted. We haven’t had enough notice, and if the smell from this plant is as bad as has been said, then we are not happy at all.”
Earlier at the meeting, Mrs Keenleyside, owner of the Horseshoe Day Nursery in Follonsby Terrace, said: “The residents are very concerned about the noise, the dust, the smells and the traffic. We are concerned about the noise with this plant operating 24/7, and 82 lorries a day using that road leading into the site.
“We don’t know about the safety of the gas at the plant – could there be explosions?
“Would the councillors here today like this 600 metres from their houses?”
Mrs and Mrs Keenleyside’s plea for the plan to be “put on hold” for more consultation to take place was rejected by committee members.
One councillor, Lab-our’s Geraldine Kilgour, did express her reservations, saying: “I have very serious concerns, and I believe we need to look a lot more into it, particularly over the consultation. I’m really not comfortable with it.”
Mr Greaves said: “This particular site will take around a year to develop.
“The power generated from this facility will be enough to power about 6,000 homes. The site will also divert up to 70,000 tonnes of food waste away from landfill.” In terms of odour control, Mr Greaves said none of the food materials would be exposed to the open air at any time, adding: “It will be a safe facility with safety the highest priority of our company.”
Anaerobic digestion is a series of natural biological processes whereby organic waste material is broken down by micro-organisms and converted into biogas – a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane.
The gas is then used to power a combined heat and power plant and electricity injected into the National Grid.
The facility would operate 24 hours a day for seven days a week, and waste food is collected and is shredded in concrete tanks on the site.