Protestors are urging the public to oppose plans for a new incinerator on land close to Sunderland’s Nissan plant.
But the firm behind the scheme on the Hillthorn Farm Enterprise Zone insists it is safe and the environmental impact will be minimal.
A consultation day at Washington Millennium Centre gave residents a chance to hear from representatives of developer Rolton Kilbride about the company’s plans and the generator, which will produce electricity for Nissan.
Campaigners were also on hand collecting signatures for a petition opposing the scheme.
The company says the energy centre will use clean, safe and proven cutting-edge gasification technology, currently deployed in Norway, to produce energy from waste after recycling has taken place.
But the protestors say nothing on such a scale has been tested and they are concerned about the development’s proximity to homes and schools and the volume of traffic it will generate.
Within two-and-a-half miles, you’ve got 12 primary schools, eight nurseries, three comprehensive schools and God knows how many care and residential homes.Tracy Young
Mel Anderson and Tracy Young are two of the administrators behind the campaign’s Facebook page ‘No Monster Incinerator in Washington.’
“Within two-and-a-half miles, you’ve got 12 primary schools, eight nurseries, three comprehensive schools and God knows how many care and residential homes,” she said.
“They are using computer prediction technology to inform them of what will happen when the plant opens, because they have never had a plant this big before.
“But a computer programme is only as good as the person who wrote it.
“They are saying it will produce enough energy to fuel 45,000 houses, but they are not going to allow any of the local residential population to have any of that energy. They are going to be selling it all to Nissan and the new Advanced Manufacturing Park.
Mel is concerned about the impact on the local road network.
“They are talking about 110 trucks a day in and then there is removal of the ash that will have to be brought out,” she said.
A spokesperson for Rolton Kilbride said 91 people had attended on the day: “We were really pleased to see so many people at the exhibition,” he said.
“We recognise that people have concerns about the proposal, so we have tried to provide a wealth of independent, verified information for people to make up their own minds.
“There is a lot of misinformation with some based on historic operations in the waste sector across the UK.
“A lot of this information is legacy and the technology now is far superior in terms of safety.
“We would suggest that anybody in any doubt looks at the Government website which gives an accurate guide and shows the impacts on health are so small as to be negligible: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/384592/The_impact_on_health_emissions_to_air_from_municipal_waste_incinerators.pdf
“The design of the building has been planned, taking into account the industrial backdrop and with new trees to screen the views as much as possible.
“We would encourage people to look at the FAQs and contact us if there is an issue we have not covered in the 70 or so questions. More information can be found on our website: www.roltonkilbride.co.uk/sunderland.”