Campaigners fighting plans for a ‘monster waste incinerator’ in Washington have been promised national backing.
Labour’s shadow communities secretary, Andrew Gwynne, joined protestors this morning at the site at Hillthorn Farm.
And giving what he called the ‘shortest speech ever’ on the scheme he simply said ‘no, no, no.’
“I think the close proximity of residential properties is really quite shocking and I hadn’t appreciated until we came to the site,” he said afterwards.
“I feel very strongly that the environmental considerations should be uppermost in decision makers minds.”
Late last year, more than 9,000 people signed a petition opposing the plans by developer Rolton Kilbride.
Concerns have included the safety and effectiveness of the technology to be used, as well as potential impact on health, the environment and traffic.
If approved, the proposed plant would be able to take 215,000 tonnes of non-recyclable, non-hazardous waste a year and generate 27 megawatts of electricity.
Mr Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, in Greater Manchester, added: “The fact the applicants are suggesting key documents be kept secret because they’re commercially sensitive really worries me.
“The local people should have full transparency on what’s going to go on this site and how it will operate.”
Mr Gwynne, who has been Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government since June last year (2017), was invited to view the site by Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson, who is also backing the protests.
She also questioned whether the appropriateness of both the technology and the site proposed in the plans.
But developer Rolton Kilbride has defended the scheme, claiming it has been backed by Sunderland City Council and called the technology ‘tried and tested’.
Andrew Needham, the firm’s managing director, said: “Whilst this variant of technology is new to this country, it has been used for decades in Japan, as well as other countries.
“There are over 75 plants in Japan using this sort of technology.
“It is tried and tested, with a long and reliable track record, to produce a clean, safe source of energy from rubbish that would not be recycled.
“To suggest that because ‘it wasn’t invented here, therefore it’s not safe’ doesn’t hold water.
“The site was chosen after consultation and by invitation from the local council, and is optimal for its nearness to Nissan, which will benefit from the energy.”
Plans were submitted to Sunderland City Council for consideration last year, although a decision is yet to be issued.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service