Councillors will be taken to see an energy recovery plant in operation before deciding whether a similar facility can be built on the outskirts of Preston.
Members of Lancashire County Council’s development control committee voted to make the trip to witness the process of generating electricity by burning household and commercial waste.
READ MORE >>> Plan to bring waste energy site to Preston
The concept forms the basis of a proposed plant on the Red Scar Industrial Estate on Longridge Road, which the committee heard has attracted around 300 objections since plans for it emerged earlier this year.
The local democracy reporting service understands that Miller Turner, the company behind the project, is now attempting to identify a suitable plant for members to visit.
Councillors will also look around the proposed site north of Preston where the firm has applied to create a facility capable of processing almost 400,000 tonnes of non-hazardous waste each year. The 23-acre development – which would lie around a mile south of Grimsargh – would include two, 85m-high chimneys, a waste storage bunker, ash storage room and an area to receive the rubbish to power the plant.
Speaking after the meeting, Colin Jarvis from the campaign group Residents Against Longridge Road Energy Centre, said he was not surprised that there had been so many objections to the plans.
“I handed out some leaflets at a local supermarket and most people I spoke to didn’t know anything about it – and were quite concerned once they found out.
“Goodness knows what will be coming out of the chimney, but there is no way that it will improve the air quality in Preston. The company does not use the word ‘incinerator’ on its website, because it knows the negative connotations.
“And as electricity is to be sold off to local businesses, residents won’t get any benefit at all – just all the extra traffic,” Colin said.
But Miller Turner says that the Environment Agency permit under which it would operate the plant would ensure that “the very small number of emissions” released would be kept within safe levels. The company adds that those levels are set “way below” the point at which they would affect health.
“Our proposals for Longridge Road Energy Centre would use the residual waste left over from homes and businesses, after recycling has taken place, as a fuel to create electricity,” the firm’s director of planning, Paul Zanin, said in a statement.
“The electricity would be low carbon and, by connecting directly to major local employers, we can provide them with low-cost power. This has the potential to attract new businesses to the area around Preston, creating hundreds of new job opportunities accessible to local people, and helping to preserve existing employment.
“Longridge Road Energy Centre would also directly create 40 permanent jobs and 500 jobs through the construction period.
“Council areas in Lancashire already offer a kerbside recycling service for materials including plastic. This is likely to increase, but there will remain residual non-recyclable waste.
“Longridge Road Energy Centre would provide a secure method for reducing Lancashire’s landfill, using proven technology in use across the country to tackle this problem,” Mr. Zanin added.
It is expected that the £200m plant could generate around 42 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 109,000 homes.
No date has been set for when the development control committee will determine the full application.