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Swindon Biomass plant plans ‘stuck in limbo’ after application withdrawal

Swindon Biomass plant plans ‘stuck in limbo’ after application withdrawal

From left, Des Moffatt, Terrie Jones, Paul Saunders and Marie Thatcher, who have led the opposition to the plant

From left, Des Moffatt, Terrie Jones, Paul Saunders and Marie Thatcher, who have led the opposition to the plant

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @BerenCross

PLANS to build a biomass plant in Cheney Manor are on the verge of collapse after Pure Green withdrew its application for an environmental permit with the Environment Agency.

Coun Des Moffatt (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney), who has led opposition to the plans from the start, has said this is a positive step forward for the hundreds of residents against the building of the plant.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said yesterday: “I can confirm that the application submitted by Pure Green to the Environment Agency on August 19, 2013, for a waste wood and biomass boiler at Cheney Manor, was formally withdrawn by the applicant on December 17, 2013.

“The withdrawal of this application does not prevent the operator from applying again.”

The UK offshoot of Hippofan, a European specialist in animal bedding, lodged plans to build the biomass plant at Cheney Manor Industrial Estate with Swindon Council in April last year.

The plans have been at the centre of a number of large public gatherings, including a residents’ meeting, a planning committee and a council meeting.

Under the proposals, the company wants to produce around 50,000 tonnes of animal bedding plus energy at its plant which would see the construction of two chimneys up to 30 metres high.

Despite the withdrawal of the application with the Environment Agency, the plans are not yet dead and buried, with a planning application still awaiting a decision from Swindon Council.

Geoff Fynes, the agent assigned to the application by Pure Green, said: “As far as I am aware the application is still live and under consideration.”

Mr Fynes also said the last time he received instruction from Peter Vandeputte, Pure Green’s lead on the application, was during a meeting with planners shortly before Christmas.

A decision on this planning matter was deferred in August, and would not be considered until Pure Green began a series of consultations with the public, which have yet to take place.

Agents representing the applicants have shown no inclination to begin consultations when asked by the council’s officers for an update on the planning application.

“People need licences to operate and pollute the air, everywhere in the country,” said Coun Moffatt. “They have withdrawn the application with the Environment Agency, which is significant.

“The other thing is that it still needs to go to planning. If they got planning permission they could still go back to the Environment Agency and open up another application.”

Pure Green’s planning application continues to sit on the council’s system, pending a final decision. While Pure Green continues to delay any consultation action, the clock is ticking according, to Coun Moffatt, who said these matters are not allowed to fester and skew the council’s performance figures.

“The whole thing stands in limbo until they do consult or the council tries to dispose of the application. The longer it sits there it damages the council’s performance targets.”

Terri Jones, 60, a self-employed confectioner of Bruce Street, said: “This is fabulous news.

“This sends a message, loud and clear, to Forward Swindon, and the business they attract to Cheney Manor Industrial Estate.

“It is not a place for heavy industry, due to the closeness to the residents and the road infrastructure.”

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