Campaigners protest outside opening exhibition about the Wisbech incinerator proposals
- Credit: Archant
Over 40 campaigners against proposals to build a mega incinerator in Wisbech held a protest this morning outside the opening day of public exhibitions about the plans.
Holding banners of various sizes and standing at an appropriate distance from one another, their message was clear: “No Wisbech Incinerator.”
MVV Environment is now showcasing the scheme it is proposing in Algores Way for residents and businesses to learn more about its vision for the site.
Today’s exhibition (October 1) has been set up at the Rosmini Centre in Queens Street and will continue at various venues in and around the town over the next fortnight.
The team say 10 residents have booked for the first day, and around 30 people have requested to look at the proposals at events being held in the first week.
It is possible for visitors to turn up, but they may be asked to wait outside if the exhibition room is busy.
Paul Carey, MVV’s managing director, attended today’s event for the facility, which is being called the Medworth Energy from Waste Combined Heat and Power Facility.
Mr Carey said: “This is our second non-statutory consultation and it’s an opportunity for us to explain our proposals in person for members of the community to ask us questions.
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“And, hopefully, we will be able to provide the answers.”
He added: “We need to look at the benefits the facility will offer.
“Too much residual waste is going to landfill and over the last 20 years the UK has had to change the way it deals with waste.
“More and more of these energy from waste facilities are being built across Europe.
“At the site we have chosen for Wisbech, there is industry and businesses that can use our energy in the form of electricity and steam.
“This approach is much more sustainable than using fossil fuels and so is part of a growing trend towards switching to renewable energy.
“This is the right solution; we just need to find out if this is the right site.”
Mr Carey went on to explain MVV’s facility in Plymouth is placed in a similar location to the one being proposed in Wisbech, and is close to housing and schools.
“Wisbech would be over double the size of Plymouth,” he admitted, “but the nearest house will is 64 metres away whereas here in Wisbech the nearest home is 100 metres plus away.
“I also want to reassure residents that the steam pipeline being proposed will not stop the railway line being built and we would contribute towards things like road infrastructure projects.”
Contributions towards community projects, education initiatives with local schools and a community liaison committee have also been introduced to Plymouth and these would be considered if the Wisbech scheme goes-ahead.
Outside the exhibition, campaigners stood socially distanced from one another and openly shared their concerns about the scheme’s environmental impact, health impact and the increase in traffic it would generate.
Meanwhile, passing vehicles sounded their horns in support and two friendly police officers also stopped briefly to make sure everyone was socially distanced.
Clive Coble, who joined the Wisbech Without Incineration campaign (WisWin), explained how he spent around a day constructing a trailer with a banner that says: “Health YES. Incinerator NO. STOP the Wisbech Incinerator.”
He regularly drives it around the area and plans to be outside every location where the public exhibitions are being held.
Clive, of Waterlees Road, said: “They say there will be up to 300 more HGVs on the roads around Wisbech seven days a week and my main concern is the traffic that would generate.
“The infrastructure can’t cope now, how is it going to cope with all that as well?”
He added: “I’m also here for our future generations.
“The next generations are going to need all the help they can get, and this is my way of trying to help them.”
Flood risk was a key concern raised by Diana Mutimer, of William Road.
She said: “I don’t understand the rationale of a facility of this kind being in Wisbech.
“My main point is that it is being proposed on an area that’s on a Zone 3 floodplain.
“Climate change experts are saying in the next 10 to 15 years are going to be crucial.
“The incinerator is a considerable development, and the flooding issues it will cause aren’t a case of if, but when.”
Ginny Bucknor is co-ordinating the WisWin efforts and questions whether MVV’s public exhibitions should be taking place given the government’s current coronavirus restrictions.
She said: “From October 1, the government clearly said that exhibitions should not be held and I believe they [MVV] have broken the rules.”
She added: “People are angry, they do not want it.
“The proposed incinerator for Waterbeach was turned down because it had one Listed building close to it.
“Wisbech has a Grade I listed building and 265 Grade-II Listed buildings nearby - and there are many more reasons why this is the wrong place.”
MVV Environment says their total investment into the scheme would be over £300 million.
It is anticipated that construction would take around three years, and employ up to 700 people.
Afterwards, there will be 40 full-time roles once the facility is up and running.
The company’s exhibitions are part of a second non-statutory consultation period where it is also possible to read about the proposals in booklets available at several venues until October 29.
Its first was held earlier this year in spring during the coronavirus lockdown and exhibition events had to be cancelled.
MVV Environment says there will a further consultation period early next year before its planning application is finalised in autumn 2021.
If the planning process goes ahead, the application will be subject to a public examination of the arguments for and against by the government’s planning inspectorate before determination by the government.
To attend a forthcoming exhibition event, visit the MVV Environment website.