Residents fear plans for a controversial waste incineration plant will be given the go-ahead despite concerns over health and environmental risks.
Councillors meet today for a crucial vote on whether to grant full planning permission for a incinerator at the former Westfield opencast mine near Cardenden.
Plans to redevelop the site, with the possibility of up to 2500 jobs, were granted planning in principle in 2017, but those opposing the incinerator plan say the plant could have a “devastating effect” on local communities if it goes ahead.
“We fear that the over all masterplan for Westfield was merely a sweetener to get the Council on side when in reality we have only yet seen the plans for this incinerator nothing else whatsoever,” said David Taylor, Cardenden Community Council secretary.
“If granted this is likely to have a devastating effect on the surrounding communities and we feel that impact has not fully been appreciated.”
The plant, which would have a capacity to burn up to 250,000 tonnes of waste per year, is one of 11 new facilities that could be build in Scotland as part of the Scottish Government’s drive to reduce waste by 15 per cent and recycle 70 per cent of all waste by 2025.
“Not only are we concerned of the effect burning will have locally and to the wider environment, we have major concerns over the impact it will have on our roads,” Mr Taylor added.
“Waste will have to be brought in by HGV’s having a further detrimental impact which has not been taken account of.
“I fear having already been advised to grant approval to the incinerator plan by planning officers, members of the central Area planning committee will be influenced by prospect of jobs over environmental impact.”
Plans for the 423-hectare site, which was at one time the biggest opencast mine in Europe but has lain dormant since it was closed in 1998, would include a solar farm and a park area.
It’s expected the finished site will create up to 1500 new jobs, with a further 1000 jobs created during the construction phase if the overall proposal from Durham-based Hargreaves Services (Westfield) Ltd, are fully realised.