Concerns over accountability for £16m Warboys heat and power plant

CONCERNS: The Woodford site in Warboys where the combined heat and power plant could go

CONCERNS: The Woodford site in Warboys where the combined heat and power plant could go - Credit: Archant

Villagers in Warboys fear that no-one will be accountable if plans for a proposed £16 million combined heat and power plant goes wrong.

Campaigner Betty Ball said the two halves of the plant were being run by different firms and that they understood the process had not been tried in the UK before.

The combined heat and power plant would burn waste wood and heat generated would be used to process water leachate imported from other landfill sites.

But Paul McLaughlin, project manager, said the site would be heavily regulated and would be safe.

Warboys Parish Council will consider a planning application for the plant by Sycamore Planning Ltd on February 5.

The plant would be sited at the landfill site on the edge of the village which led to decades of protests over hazardous waste.

Mrs Ball, of Warboys Landfill Action Group, said: “The most frightening thing about is that the two parties are new and have no record of dealing with anything like this.

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“There would be two owners, one at each end of the process and the concern is that if something goes wrong with it, who be responsible for it.”

She added: “It is a potentially hazardous operation.”

Mrs Ball said they would be raising the issue of planning permission being granted to the site, rather than an operator, with their MP Shailesh Vara.

She said that when the go-ahead was given to turn the site over to landfill many years ago residents were reassured by the reputation of the proposed operator, but the site was then sold on to another firm with “disastrous” consequences.

She was worried that history would repeat itself at the site where materials leaching into the water remained a concern.

Mrs Ball said the action group had delivered letters door to door saying how objections could be made, with a deadline of February 8, and that villagers could attend the parish council meeting.

But Mr McLaughlin said the two parts of the development were under different business because of the way the scheme was funded but it would be run by a single operator which would answer to the district and county councils and the Environment Agency.

“We have put a lot of work into this and sometimes people cannot get their heads around the idea that the waste industry is not what it was in the 1980s and 1990s when the waste was just put in a hole in the ground,” he said. “If we do not get the permits we will not be running it.”

Mr McLaughlin said that with China cutting back on the waste it received from the UK for recycling, the country was “duty bound” to process waste as close to the source as possible and the site would meet existing demand from local operators who were sending material as far away as Glasgow.