Prime Minister Boris Johnson 'looking into' plans for 'monster incinerator' in Washington
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will look into proposals for a controversial gasification plant in Washington.
Plans for the project – dubbed a “monster incinerator” by campaigners – were raised in Parliament during Prime Minister’s Question Time by Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson.
Mrs Hodgson asked Mr Johnson: “Does the Prime Minister agree with me and 10,800 of my constituents who signed petitions, that the building of a gasification plant in Washington would be terrible for the people of Sunderland due to the public health concerns, air quality and would indeed be a blot on the landscape of Sunderland?
“Now, as a frequent visitor to Sunderland, I’m sure he shares my concerns on this matter. Will he therefore support me and my constituents, who oppose the building of this plant?”
The Prime Minister replied: “I will certainly look into the matter that she raises. We will make sure, of course, that if there is a problem with the gasification plant that she describes, that Sunderland continues to prosper and to lead the UK economy.”
Campaigners have been fighting plans for the Sunderland Renewable Energy Centre, drafted by Rolton Kilbride Ltd for Hillthorn Farm Enterprise Zone, which aims to help power Nissan.
The plant would convert thousands of tonnes of non-recyclable, non-hazardous waste using high temperatures to break down materials in a process known as ‘gasification’.
A planning application was made in October 2017, sparking a campaign by objectors and a petition bearing more than 9,000 signatures.
Members of Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee voted against advice from their own officers and rejected the scheme at a crunch meeting in July 2019.
The developers lodged an appeal and the plans will now go to a public inquiry led by a government-appointed planning inspector.
An eight-day hearing has been arranged at the Stadium of Light’s Montgomery Suite to decide the future of the scheme. It opens at 10am on Tuesday, February 18.
Rolton Kilbride has defended the scheme, calling it “tried and tested”, with decades of use in Japan and other countries.