The “Reserved Matters ” for the Snoasis planning application were agreed Wednesday last week. That’s all the details that were not covered when the Secretary of State agreed the application after the public inquiry in 2007. In fact a number of items in the legal agreement, the “section 106” document were changed to planning conditions, a process the government likes as it usually reduces the delay between application and the start of work. However in this case the district council and the developer have taken 10+ years to ge to this point so I wonder just how speedily things will develop from now on. The problem with conditions is that they are agreed at officers discretion so local people have little input.
We were promised that the “Local Reference Group” rather like the Liaison Group that I chair at the Suez EFW plant. I hope that will help to keep residents and the parish group in touch and get the local voice heard.
My input to the meeting as Ward Member
Is this a
wonderful opportunity to gain a world class winter sport facility or just a chance
to spend further years being assured with little supporting evidence that “finance
is in place” while wilfully blind optimism drives a project that is just not
viable. If it were a good business project
would we now be 13 years down the road with little to show?
The planning meeting this month considered the application to increase the number of houses to be built at Blakenham Fields by using the land once set aside for employment and a school. This increase allowed the District and County Councils to negotiate developer funding for the shop, education and early years and sports facilities overcoming the “viability” issues the developer claims to have with the original agreement. As this occurred the minister, Brendan Lewis, appears to have backtracked on his decisions to allow developers to escape from commitments using the viability argument under pressure from London authorities.
I opened my presentation to the committee by saying “I am convinced we are dumping developments in Gt Blakenham to the detriment of the population. We appear to have made a lot of concessions to get the site completed but there are a lot of unfinished issues.
The local residents are incensed that they have gained little to mitigate their problems. They face crowded doctor’s surgeries, oversubscribed pre-school provision, lack of primary school capacity, no village centre shop, daytime only public transport, congested roads and lack of local community facilities.”
And finished “The development has got too large for this location. I believe we should not grant planning permission until Early Years, Primary School, Highways and Primary Care issues are resolved to the state where they can be clearly communicated and agreed by the community and until the heads of agreement leave a minimum opportunity for future confusion and failed delivery.” (The full text is on my www site)
Although many councillors appeared to accept my arguments and those of Michael Blakenham, the majority eventually voted to approve the plans.
That leaves me with the need to get these problems addressed or evidence produced that they are less than people fear. I have started by getting the County officers to make face to face contact with the school heads to ensure both parties understand the issues and use the available finance to good purpose. They have also promised to carry the lack of early years provision forward with vigour.
Yesterday Suffolk County Council Development Control Committee granted planning permission to SITA for an Incinerator (they call it an energy from waste plant). I still believe that there are better technologies such as Anaerobic Digestion for food waste that would yield better results, be less environmentally damaging and not require commitment to a 25 year PFI contract. However the conservative administration committed themselves to this technology in 2005 and no arguments have persuaded them to waver.
Unfortunately they would not even consider road improvements to the Lodge Lane/ Bramford Road junction to reduce traffic congestion. Neither would they consider payments to the local community via the parish councils to allow improvements to local facilities as a small benifit to offset the harm they will suffer.
I Visited the Violia incinerator at Portsmouth on June 3rd with councillors from the county planning committee (Development Control), council officers and parish councillors from Bramford & Little Blakenham. It is a very large building some 40 metres high although smaller than the county plans for Gt Blakenham. Just what would it look like in the Gipping Valley? A house is 7 metres to the ridge, In Portsmouth the incinerator is in a large industrial area.
It was an operational plant built several years ago but modern, not a converted old incinerator like the one SITA took us to in Kirklees. The building was tidy and quite clean. There was no noise or smell outside the building and not a lot inside but they have had problems with some noisy equipment that were solved after commissioning. There was no sign of traffic problems and no queue to tip waste.
We did not get to the fan cooled condensers that could be a noise problem at Gt Blakenham or at the turbine so the county council’s noise expert could not take readings
One problem revealed was that on one occasion the plant suffered an inversion layer at low height that grounded the plume from the chimneys within 400 meters. In Gt Blakenham that would be on housing and the valley area is known for inversion layers. They were, we are told the issue that forced the high chimney on the cement works. Long term residents of the area have raised questions on this issue repeatedly and have been told that they should not be worried. What is the true position?
Pollution measurements were being taken continuously as regulations require and were well below regulatory limits. Unfortunately the critical pollutants like heavy metals dioxins and furenesare difficult to measure at low concentrations and are only measured every 3 months. Levels are considered to be OK as long as the combustion temperature is kept above 850 deg Celsius for a set time. That temperature is monitored continuously.
Overall this plant burnt 205 k tonnes of waste, produced 65 k tonnes of Co2, 44 k tonnes of bottom ash for road building, 5 k tonnes of hazardous pollution control residue (fly ash) and 2 k tonnes of recovered metals. The Co2 is less damaging to the environment than methane from landfill but anaerobic digestion would not emit either.
Overall nothing alarming, better than landfill but still not a good process.
The Government via the Homes & Communities Agency has given the go ahead for loans of £5.4 million for 81 affordable and 40 private housing at the Mason’s Works (SnOasis) site in Gt Blakenham. The affordable homes will be 56 social rented and 25 shared ownership and will be built by March 2012.
The £5.4 million is made up of £3.9m for the 81 affordable homes and a £1.5m loan to help fund the private market housing. This development will provide a valuable boost to local employment in the building industry and help meet local housing needs.
National Grid have been under pressure in Somerset as well as Suffolk to consider seriously a wider range range of options for reinforcing the grid. They have just released the following news release that shows some movement. Keep your fingures crossed.
NATIONAL GRID TO PROVIDE MORE INFORMATION ON HINKLEY POINT CONNECTION PROJECT
National Grid has announced plans to hold a series of events to further explain the background to its proposals for a new overhead electricity line between Bridgwater and Avonmouth.
The first phase of consultation on two potential route corridors for a new overhead line to connect the proposed new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station ended on 22 January.
Since then the company has been analysing the extensive feedback received from local residents. The 14-week consultation period prompted more than 2000 feedback forms, 1100 emails and letters and 100 telephone calls to the project helpline. Around 4500 people attended the 17 public exhibitions held along the potential routes.
From the feedback received, it has become clear that many people would like more information on the background to the project and the other connection options which National Grid considered before publishing its proposals.
In particular it is apparent that people want more information about alternatives to overhead power lines, such as underground or subsea cables.
National Grid is now planning to publish more information to explain how it arrived at its proposals, and will also provide new opportunities for local people to discuss them with the project team.
We will send information to all 37,000 homes within the original consultation area, and hold further briefings to local councils and public information events. Full details of when these events will take place will be announced shortly.
National Grid’s major project manager David Mercer said: “We are grateful to everyone who responded to our consultation. The opinions of residents are very important to us and will play a vital role in any decisions we make.
“Since the initial consultation period ended we have been looking at all the feedback and reflecting on the issues it has raised, and it is very clear that people need more information about alternatives to overhead power lines and pylons.
“In response to these concerns, we have decided to provide both written information and further opportunities for local people to meet the project team, and would welcome further public comments.”
A new power line is needed to connect the proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C. Depending upon the final route, the new line would be approximately 37 miles long and is planned to be constructed in 2016.
I have visited one Incinerator at Heath Road Hospital and one MBT Plant at Donarbon in Cambridge http://www.donarbon.com/ How sad can you get?
Our visit to Donarbon in Cambridge was interesting. The plant is still in its test phase prior to handover but was clean tidy, except for the festoons of video tape and from the outside looked like any other modern industrial building.
Cambridge re-cycles high portion of waste through Peterborough and GT Blakenham. It treats garden waste by windrow composting and kitchen waste by in vessel composting. The output is sold to farmers and gardeners as the process is certified safe.
Their “black bin” residual waste is processed by an MBT (Mechanical Biological Treatment) plant to avoid paying LATS (Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme) penalties by stabilising the waste, reducing biological activity by 70%, as measured by oxygen take up. Suffolk has never appeared clear that this is so but it is: I checked the regulations. MBT plant output can be stabilised waste or refuse derived fuel that can be sold. We were that there is a market and this fuel and it is classed biomass as recyclate has been removed before burning takes place.
The cost of the MBT plant is about £40 M under a PFI. Suffolk’s large mass burn Incinerator (sorry, Energy from Waste Plant) will cost a lot more in a 30 year £600 M PFI contract. Expensive flue gas clean up is required as black bin waste has a number of contaminants that must be extracted from the flue gas to tight EU regulations. (Three chears for the European Union). We were told that the best way to build a mass burn system is to go through MBT first taking the pollutants out before burning rather than spend a fortune extracting them afterwards.
Ironically the number of large incinerators built is causing a shortage of waste and Incinerator operators in Europe are importing waste at Euro 20 per tonne to keep the beast running.
We are planning to trial vehicle activated electronic signs in the area and measure their effect. I am working on this in a group involving the Police and County Highways. We intend to settle the debate on the most effective way of reducing anti social speeding at an acceptable cost. This will lead to less argument and more action.
The plan is to run the trial in Bramford, Claydon, Gt Blakenham, Henley and Somersham using several approaches. We should have two semi permanent, solar cell powered, 30 mph signs that illuminate when vehicles pass at more than the speed limit and one that displays a vehicle’s speed. There will also be extra speed guns in each Safer Neighbourhood Team area.
One additional permanent sign in this area will be funded by my locality budget for road improvements
The “Waste Core Strategy” has been revised after consultation and on 10th December was approved by the County Council for submission to the Government. This strategy gives the policies by which planning applications for waste processing facilities will be judged and the possible sites for large “strategic” facilities.
Waste quantities are dropping and have saved the County about £1.8million this year and Eastern Region waste estimates are being revised downwards. This should cut the number of waste processing facilities Suffolk needs, particularly when the number of smaller sites that are likely to be built is taken into account.
The County now believes it needs four not five strategic sites and we are heading towards two being sufficient. The chance that Gipping Valley will be faced with two large waste treatment sites in Gt Blakenham and a third at Sproughton is reducing.
I will continue to emphasise this reduced need as we move through the final stages of the plan process. My belief remains that Suffolk’s waste would be better handled nearer to source by smaller more environmentally friendly anerobic digestion plants. However the administration is firmly fixed on an Incinerator (Energr from Waste Plant). Smaller plants that would lend themselves to combined heating and power (CHP) would be less difficult to finance quicker to build and less dominating in our environment.
Suffolk is now at the “Final Consultation” stage of its “Waste Core Strategy”. You can make your views known at the County www site. The strategy identifies sites for waste processing facilities and additional landfill capacity. Our main problems are that it seeks to allocate two sites in Gt Blakenham, one for the proposed County Council Incinerator at the Highways Depot and the other for commercial use at Mason’s Quarry. Two sites in the area appear too much even if you accept incineration as an appropriate technology. I do not.
A public fact finding session has been arrange for our area by Suffolk County Council at Gt. Blakenham Village Hall in the form of a drop in session on Tuesday 8th September between the hours of 15.00 hrs and 20.00 hours. Please attend, hear what is intended and make your views heard.
Suffolk Liberal democrats are opposed to Incineration as a means of waste treatment at Gt Blakenham or anywhere else. We have set up a petition at http://suffolkcclibdems.org.uk where you can record your view and ensure we have evidence of local opinion to use in our campaign to get the County Conservatives to change their mind.
Gipping Valley News from John Field