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Frome residents urged to look into incinerator plans

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PLANS for an 11km trench from Westbury to Frome housing a high voltage cable was met with protests from campaigners and local councils. Wiltshire Council has granted permission for their part of the proposed route and now Mendip  will vote on their part of the construction.  

Members of Westbury Gasification Action Group (WGAG) are asking local people to look into how the plan will affect  Somerset.  

Campaigner Margaret Cavanna explained that the cable route forms one part of the wider scheme for waste company Northacre Renewable Energy (NRE, set up by Hills Group) to construct an Advanced Thermal Treatment (ATT) plant at their site in Westbury.

Margaret said, “We asked the strategic planning committee to stipulate that further archaeological and ecological studies be carried out before giving the go ahead, given areas of significance would be ploughed through.  (On the Somerset tract, it would pass close to ancient woodland at Berkley).  And also to say no because the cable will not be carrying truly renewable energy, despite the company’s claims.  However this was to no avail, and the planners considered it in isolation from the major incinerator development.

“We’ve been fighting this for the last year and a half as it will be a climate changing incinerator, emitting thousands of tonnes of CO2 per year.  It will doubtless be burning plastics, act as a disincentive to increased recycling and bring 15,100 additional truck movements to an area that’s already congested and dangerously polluted. The mammoth project includes a 75 metre chimney stack that would emit a cocktail of pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide, plus fine particles below PM 2.5 that cannot be filtered out.  These particles can penetrate lungs and blood stream, causing serious health problems.  Contents of the plume from the stack could ground up to 15 km away, so depending on wind direction on any given day, may descend on easterly parts of Mendip.  It’s great that Frome Town Council have understood the potential impacts of the development and objected to both the ATT and the grid connection proposals.

“Sadly, Wiltshire Council failed to see the relevance of policies requiring them to consider the cumulative impact of their various waste developments at or near the Westbury site.  The strategic planning committee voted through the trench plan.  And we were hugely disappointed to hear recently that Minister James Brokenshire hadn’t agreed to requests to call in the approval decision for the incinerator, enabling Wiltshire Council to issue their approval notice last week.  

“The only positives in this are that because of opposition, a proposal last summer was turned down, and it’s a revised version  has been consented.  Also, the scrutiny that came about because of the call in to the Minister has resulted in Wiltshire Council having to place four extra conditions on NRE, including requirements relating to climate change and a mix of waste feedstock to be burned.  However there is a trust issue as to how the company’s compliance will be monitored and enforced.

“Hopefully people in and around Frome will let Mendip Council know urgently if they are concerned about the grid connection under planning reference 2019/0519/FUL.  This may go to the planning board very soon.’  For further details see Westbury Gasification Action Group on facebook or email westburygag@gmail.com. 

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