Residents are urged to keep an eye on the 'Latest News' section of Spelthorne Borough Council Website in the coming weeks, perhaps as early as the next few days. At our public meeting, London Irish made it plain that they intended to make two separate applications in respect of their Avenue site and a separate application for the Hazelwood Golf Course. As soon as more is known the Website will be updated and this will probably occur before the next e-bulletin is issued. We can be confident that the Local Planning Authority will allow plenty of time for representations to be made and will be making due allowance for the Easter break. (If you are not yet signed up to our e-bulletin service, why not click on the 'Contact LOSRA' on the top right menu of the Home Page and leave your email address?).
The depressing news on the approval of the Eco Park application by Surrey County Council may not be the end of the story. Readers will be well aware that LOSRA is implacably opposed to this development, and following the Planning Committee decision, we had a lengthy meeting with the Head of Corporate Governance, the Head of Planning Policy and the Cabinet member responsible for Environmental Services. It was a useful meeting and sufficient time was allowed for all our concerns to be aired. It now remains to be seen whether counsel for SBC advises that there is a case for applying to the High Court for Judicial Review.
It is worth reminding readers that, whatever the decision, no evidence has yet been provided which rebuts the following propositions:
- According to the EC Guidelines for safer Biomass gasification, such plants can never be safe; they are always managed risks requiring best practice to mitigate them. Assurances of absolute safety are simply untrue.
- Batch gasifiers (eg.the EcoPark) burning unknown waste are a lot riskier than continuous Biomass fed gasifiers because they are harder to control and experience continuous process perturbations as feed chambers are switched. Most 'big bangs' occur at start up and shut down, as any process engineer can tell you.
- During operation of a biomass gasification plant there is an increased hazard potential due to the fact that a potentially explosive, toxic and combustible gas mixture is produced and consumed. The producer gas and residues (ash, liquids, exhaust gases) may cause the following major hazards/risks:
- an explosion and/or fire;
- health damage to humans (poisoning, danger of suffocation, noise, hot surfaces, fire and explosion); and
- pollution of the environment and plant vicinity.
- To counteract these adverse effects, appropriate measures must be taken to meet the requirements for successful market introduction of a safe and eco-friendly biomass gasification technology;
- The developers had neither recognised these risks in their design nor advised the Health and Safety Executive of what they were about. We did that when they would not. They have still not created a viable design; and what they propose is often the opposite to what is recommended in the Guidelines ie. UNSAFE
Hence our concern with placing a badly designed experimental explosive chemical process plant, handling toxic substances, in a public facility near dense habitation. Not a practice that a responsible commercial plant operator would follow, or be allowed to follow by competent authorities or their lawyers, because it's simply placing people at avoidable risk.
Not a planning criterion says the Surrey CC planning officer; not your problem he assured councillors.