Date set for public inquiry into controversial incinerator at Bilsthorpe

GETTING HIS MESSAGE ACROSS -- Conservative MP Mark Spencer backs the Bilsthorpe protesters.
GETTING HIS MESSAGE ACROSS -- Conservative MP Mark Spencer backs the Bilsthorpe protesters.

The date for a public inquiry into the controversial plan for a waste-incinerator in Bilsthorpe has been confirmed.

The inquiry starts on Tuesday 3rd November at the South Forest Leisure Complex in Edwinstowe. It will be chaired by a government inspector and is expected to last two weeks.

Local residents who oppose the plan will be able to give their views at the inquiry, for which a preparatory meeting was held this week.

The meeting set out the rules and timelines of the inquiry and was attended by all parties who wish to make representations.

They included Bilsthorpe’s Conservative MP, Mark Spencer, who is firmly opposed to the incinerator, or gasification plant. He backs the action group RAGE (Residents Against Gasification Experiment), which has been set up in the village.

“My team attended the pre-inquiry meeting to keep track of proceedings, and I’ll be watching it closely,” said Mr Spencer.

“I’ve made my support for RAGE very clear and that won’t change. The survey I conducted of local people showed that they overwhemingly oppose the plan. The extent of feeling was obvious during the election campaign when it came up on almost every single doorstep.

“While I can’t intervene in any planning decisions or processes, I can keep people in touch with what’s going on and, nearer the time, I will let residents know how they can have their say at the inquiry.”

The inquiry was made necessary when the former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, ‘called in’ the plan and took it out of the hands of Notts County Council. The council had originally granted planning permission to the company behind the incinerator, Peel Environmental Ltd.

If approved, the incinerator will be built on a 10.35-acre site that formerly housed Bilsthorpe Colliery, which closed in 1997 after a 70-year lifespan.

Manchester-based Peel Environmental Ltd says it would be part of an energy centre that would use gasification methods to turn recyclable materials from waste and rubbish into electricity for export to the National Grid. The company estimates that it would handle about 117,000 tonnes of non-hazardous waste every year.

However, residents and action group RAGE say they have “serious and genuine concerns” relating to the impact the centre would have on the environment and the local community. They are unsure about the technology that would be used, and want more evidence on the type and source of waste the facility would handle.