Free heating for Westfield estate?

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When I heard about the proposal to build the “Community Renewable Energy Centre” I was puzzled. I wondered why Rother Valley Way, Holbrook, had been selected. It is not near any sources of timber pellets nor is it adjacent to a motorway or major road over which the annual estimated requirement of 45,000 tonnes of feeder fuel will be carried…let alone the waste ash!

Planning was granted and not many “locals” were aware of this until the Star carried the news that it was going ahead.

After a little research I find we, the public, will be largely funding its £30 million cost, through the UK Government’s UK Green Investment Bank and its partner Equitix Energy….Could this combined heat and power facility be part of the Northern Powerhouse, especially when it turns out the applicant is a specialist company set up by the Department of Energy and Climate Change?

Using silicate oil technology and wood pellets the plant will produce sufficient thermal energy to provide heating to the Westfield estate. This, will be provided at a commercial rate….although where would it go if no agreement is reached ?The plant will also sell 36,000 MW of electricity to the National Grid, sufficient for the supply of 2,600 homes. The application also claims to save 18,000 tonnes of CO2, but other experts make a much, much smaller claim.

So, for these relatively small benefits, the local community will have two visual blots in the shape of 25 metre tall chimneys thrust upon them. We shall also have a 24/7 operation for 365 days a year… with an increased use of local roads which, at times, already reach gridlock proportions. We shall have permanent nitrous dioxide monitoring, but NO absolute guarantees that other more noxious chemicals from wood treatment will not be incinerated or produced as by-products… Our population of Great Crested Newts, nor our local human population and other businesses are of sufficient concern to stop this development which, the proposed 30 jobs apart, apparently offers no benefits whatsoever to the area.

As the Romans said, when investigating a crime, “Quo bono”? Well, Veolia, we read, will be managing the plant… and the only logical outlet for the heat is the Westfield estate. I do hope SCC, as a “planning gain”, screws them down on price and we get free heating for Westfield as some recompense.

Stewart Dalton

Westland Gardens, S20