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.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 3:17 pm
PM Boris Johnson seen arriving at Sunderland's National Glass Centre on January 31. Picture by Stu Norton.

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?”

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Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson raised the 'gasification' plant at Prime Minister's Questions.

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.

Protesters with MPs Sharon Hodgson and Andrew Gwynne, October 2018

The developers lodged an appeal and the plans will now go to a public inquiry led by a government-appointed planning inspector.

Rolton Kilbride has defended the scheme, calling it “tried and tested”, with decades of use in Japan and other countries.