Washington 'monster incinerator' gasification plant plans set for approval by Sunderland City Council at Stadium of Light meeting
Plans for a controversial power plant in Washington could be given the go-ahead next week, despite thousands of objections.
Proposals for the Sunderland Renewable Energy Centre, which have been drafted by Rolton Kilbride Ltd for Hillthorn Farm Enterprise Zone, aim to help power Nissan.
If approved, the plant would be able to convert 215,000 tonnes of non-recyclable, non-hazardous waste per year and generate up to 27 megawatts of electricity.
The plant would use a process known as “gasification” which uses high temperatures to break down waste, without combustion.
Applicant Rolton Kilbride has previously defended the scheme, adding the technology is “tried and tested” – with decades of use in Japan and other countries.
However, since the plans were lodged in 2017, they have caused controversy, being dubbed a ‘monster incinerator’ by protestors.
Concerns have included traffic, health, air quality and the safety and effectiveness of the technology used.
Next week, a crunch meeting will take place to decide the major application.
A 256-page report, prepared for Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee, has recommended that the plans are approved.
However, this would be subject to a raft of conditions covering the construction and operation of the plant.
This includes the storage and transport of waste, odour and a plan outlining how the operator will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Thousands of people voice objection
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The report also sets out objections from the public, from a 9,000-signature petition to individual representations from more than 900 residents.
Other objectors include environmental groups such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Durham Bird Club.
However, council officers have said that on balance, the benefits of the plant outweigh any potential “adverse impacts”.
In action, officers state, the facility will “move waste disposal up the hierarchy by diverting it from disposal whilst providing a low carbon and partially renewable energy source. ”
The planning report adds there is a “demonstrable need” for the facility.
It reads: “The proposal also satisfies the proximity principle by offering a facility with good transport links to nearby waste producers, including those currently exporting waste abroad, which also weighs in favour of the proposal.
“Some limited positive weight is also given to the jobs that would be created during the construction and operational phases of the development, with the associated financial benefits to the local and wider economy and the provision of a local education function.”
If approved, the application would include a visitor and education area, staff welfare and offices, a weigh-house and gatehouse, turbine hall, air-cooled condenser fans and staff and visitor car parking.
It would also feature a 57-metre chimney and silos for ash and lime, with 35 full-time equivalent jobs created.
The planning meeting will take place at the Stadium of Light’s Montgomery Suite on Friday, July 19 at 4.30pm.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, has said she “shares the concerns of constituents” and has also applied to speak at the meeting.