Who are Westbury Gasification Action Group?
People from Westbury and surrounding towns & villages got together at the start of 2018 - all ages and walks of life. Westbury's a small town that seems to receive more than its fair share of Wiltshire Council's housing allocation and industrial development, but little in the way of infrastructure, social or leisure facilities to go with them!
When Northacre Renewable Energy, formed by Hills Group, announced it was constructing an Advanced Thermal Technology facility to treat 160,000 tonnes of waste a year, close to family housing, schools and parks, for many it was the final straw! Their Mechanical & Biological Treatment plant was already causing various nuisances to those living nearby, who immediately wanted to oppose thousands more tonnes of rubbish being brought in, and potentially harmful processes taking place close to the population.
Westbury Town Council has voted to Object to three different ATT plans submitted by NRE/Hills. Members of the group have been out and about raising awareness, and now four neighbouring councils have joined Westbury, recognising the effects of the operation could be felt beyond the immediate vicinity.
Why are people against the ATT operation?
- The developer got a smaller plan for the site passed by Wiltshire Council in 2015, with little public consultation or involvement. Since then an extensive house building programme has seen thousands of new families move to Westbury, many close to the proposed site.
- Huge concerns about the potential risks to public health from fine particulates and numerous other toxic emissions from the 75 metre chimney stack. Even the best air filters cannot eliminate these risks and there's insufficient research data on the proposed gasification technology.
- Volumes needed to feed the 24/7 operation would require waste to be brought in from the whole of Wiltshire and beyond.
- It isn't appropriate to build new facilities to burn materials such as plastics, when priorities are rapidly shifting towards reducing, reusing, re-purposing and recycling resources.
- Impact on local roads would be unacceptable - more than 15,000 extra HGV movements a year, just based on the company's estimate. Many would have to go through the town centre Air Quality Management Area, already registering illegal levels of pollution.
- Negative visual effect of the massive 36 metre high main building: 4 metres taller than the Titanic! As well as being overly dominant within the town, many views would be blighted, including the one from Westbury White Horse - a heritage site important to residents and visitors alike.
- The effects on local ecology and biodiversity have not been properly assessed and are thought to be significant.
- Climate change policies would be contravened given the plant would be a huge net producer of CO2. And whilst it claims to be producing 'renewable energy' and be preferable to landfill, many of the facts don't bear this out.
Just some of the reasons WGAG are fighting this development! It's challenging - both the company and parts of Wiltshire Council seem determined to get the plans through.
Why does WGAG need funds now?
- NRE/Hills submitted plans that were over 30% bigger than the original ones. But partly due to the campaign and growing opposition, this was refused by Wiltshire Council's Strategic Planning Committee in July 2018.
- WGAG put together a full submission to the Planning Inspectorate in January 2019, following notification of an appeal against refusal from NRE. We want to present it in most effective way at the Appeal Inquiry. To do this we need urgent specialist/legal help.
- Last month (January 2019) the Strategic Planning Committee voted to APPROVE the third proposal for the site. This has been called in to the Secretary of State for the final decision. But if he decides to hear the case at a Public Inquiry, again WGAG will need specialist and legal advice and representation to stand the best chance of stopping the development.
- Several group members have funded campaign materials up to now, including around 10,000 flyers! We now need support to carry this on and keep getting communications out.
WE REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR DONATIONS OF ANY AMOUNT!
What else is WGAG doing?
As well as fighting the second proposal at appeal, we have to keep up opposition to the third proposal that claims to mitigate the negative visual impact and massing of the overly dominant construction. In our view it does little of that, and opposition keeps growing. Whilst proposal 3 was sadly approved by the Strategic Planning Committee of Wiltshire Council on 23rd January 2019, it may go to a public hearing or inquiry. We await the decision of the Secretary of State on the 'call in' submitted by several parties.
Any other benefits of the campaign?
- Empowering people to speak out to protect their local community and environment
- Raising local awareness of the implications of our consumer habits and how we need to change our use of resources
- Building community by wide range of people campaigning together.
Note: In the event of any under spend of funds collected, the amount would be donated to a local charity or community organisation selected by WGAG group members.
THANKS FOR SUPPORTING US IN OUR ACTIONS TO STOP THE WESTBURY INCINERATOR!