PURE Green has no plans to withdraw its bid to build a biomass plant at Cheney Manor, despite cancelling its application for an environmental permit with the Environment Agency.
The UK-offshoot of Hippofan, a European specialist in animal bedding, has also moved to shine a light on the biomass application made by Honda in December, which has been met with far less opposition than their own.
Peter Vandeputte, CEO at Pure Green, spoke with the Adver from his Belgium base yesterday. He made clear how aggrieved his firm would feel if Honda’s own application was accepted and theirs rejected by Swindon Council.
He is adamant the technology which would be used at each plant would be identical, and no noxious gases would be churned out from the Cheney Manor base.
Mr Vandeputte also said Pure Green’s withdrawal with the Environment Agency was a financial decision.
He said: “As long as we don’t have the planning permission, we didn’t want to invest in the environmental permit. There were costs on two sides, with the planning and the environmental sides – we wanted to cut one.
“It made no sense to continue to invest further in the environmental application.”
The planning application came before the council’s planning committee on August 13 last year, when a decision was deferred to a future meeting.
The committee made this decision to enable further public consultation to be carried out by the applicants.
Minutes from that meeting said: “This will give members of the public further opportunity to find out more about the proposed scheme and for their feedback to be considered, before a decision is made.”
The Pure Green boss, however, disagrees: “As far as I am informed, there is no obligation to do some further consultation. That’s a responsibility of the planning committee.
“We have made the application and they have to decide.”
Asked if Pure Green had any plans to consult the public, Mr Vandeputte said: “Not at the moment, but this can change.”
When Honda filed its own application for a biomass plant in December, Coun Des Moffatt (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney), who has led opposition against the Cheney Manor plans, said: “It is a far more attractive proposal to that put forward by Hippofan (Pure Green).
“Gasification is different to combustion and does not involve simply burning wood.
“The process by which they get the wood ready, which is messy, will be away from the factory.”
This type of positive response was mirrored by North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson and others, which has concerned Mr Vandeputte.
He is sure his own application should be accepted if Honda’s goes through at the planning committee in the coming months.
“We are using the same technology as Honda, but they have more political influence than we do,” he said.
“Because we applied for the same technology, if they get planning permission, there should be no reason for anybody to be against Cheney Manor.
“We believe we should fall under the same legislation as Honda. If your neighbour applies to build something in your street, you would be upset if you also didn’t get the same permission.
“We will never build anything that will pollute.”
Boost for Honda biomass plans
PLANS for a state-of-the-art energy centre at Honda received a boost at a meeting of South Marston Parish Council on Tuesday night.
The car manufacturer lodged its plans for a biomass plant on its existing Highworth Road site on December 17.
Consultations on the plans were requested before January 10, but the parish council, which has a long-established working relationship with the Japanese firm, requested an extension for their views to be heard today.
On Tuesday, the council met in the village and offered its full backing for the energy solution.
Barry Thunder said: “There will be a small number of extra trucks coming in and out of the site as a result of the new plant.
“From the village’s perspective it doesn’t affect us. It is tucked away on the existing site and is no higher than the structures already on the site, so won’t affect the skyline.”
The council’s official comments will be added to the planning application, which has a determination date of Friday, March 14.
If successful, the new centre will replace former plans to build three wind turbines, which had been rejected.
Although the centre will take the form of a biomass plant, Honda is keen to stress it is very different from other proposals in Swindon.
The company will bring in recycled wood chip which will then be converted into gas. The heating of this gas then provides the energy.
Julian Bliss, a senior staff engineer at Honda, said the new centre would give the company far more energy security in the long term without affecting residents nearby.