Motion passed to send letter to Michael Gove after objections to incinerator plan

Outside of Burgess Hall, in St Ives, campaigners from POWI gathered to show their support against the plans. 

Outside of Burgess Hall, in St Ives, campaigners from POWI gathered to show their support against the plans. - Credit: Archant

More than 2,500 people have signed a petition against a hospital waste incinerator to be built in a Huntingdonshire village.

Councillor Steve Criswell presented the petition against the Envar facility at Woodhurst alongwith representatives of the action group ‘People Opposing Woodhurst Incinerator’ (POWI).  

It came as a supporting motion by Cllr Criswell was backed at an Extraordinary Meeting of the county council on Tuesday (January 25). 

It called for the county council to send a letter to the Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Michael Gove, to raise the concerns from local residents.

However, not everyone at the meeting was in agreeance with the motion - as councillors questioned whether it should be a matter left to the planning committee.

It was carried over with a recorded vote of 10 councillors in favour.

Outside of Burgess Hall, in St Ives, campaigners from POWI gathered to show their support against the plans. 

Waste management company EnVar at Woodhurst in St Ives 

Waste management company EnVar at Woodhurst in St Ives - Credit: Google Earth

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A spokesperson said: “Over 2,500 people have signed a petition indicating overwhelming public support for the POWI campaign. 

“In addition 1100 people have written to the county planning department to lodge their objections. 

“We believe these figures should cause the county council to recognise the extent of opposition which exists in the local community.” 

To sign the petition visit: 

Protestors gathered outside the Envar Q&A session in St Ives 

Protestors gathered outside the Envar Q&A session in St Ives - Credit: David Glover

Envar submitted proposals for the waste energy recovery facility last year – which will include a 26-metre-high chimney stack at The Heath, Woodhurst. 

Reasons for the objections include the height of the chimney stack, increased traffic which will lead to more road congestion, air pollution and increased noise. 

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Criswell said: "This motion is about supporting public concern and their extreme unease.

"We acknowledge the desire to move away from landfill but not at the cost of air quality."

The motion also encouraged the council to move away from the use of plastics in favour of “more sustainable alternatives” and to “fully utilise existing facilities including the incinerator located at the Addenbrooke’s Hospital site”. 

North West Cambs MP Shailesh Vara is also supporting residents in their opposition.  

Mr Vara said: “The proposed application is not suitable for this area and I, along with Cllr Steve Criswell and many other local people, am strongly against it. 

“The proposals would mean an increase in plant traffic on already congested roads causing road safety concerns on the B1040 at the Wheatsheaf Crossroads. 

Fundraising page set up by Say No To Woodhurst Incinerator group.

Fundraisers gathered earlier in 2021 in the fight against Envar. - Credit: Say No To Woodhurst Incinerator

“The emissions from the plant’s chimneys could have a major impact on local businesses especially farm produce, which could be contaminated. 

“The incinerator also poses a health risk to young children at a nursery and preschool within close proximity of the site."

Envar insist that the site would be producing top quality compost as well as biogas that is fed into the National Grid or used as vehicle fuel.

A spokesperson for Envar said: "There are many benefits to our project which include the production of green gas, an organic fertiliser as a replacement for chemical based fertilisers, more efficient recovery and an improvement in our composting process.

"Envar presented our plans to councillors and invited their views in March 2021.

"Envar remain confident of the green credentials of this project and its alignment to government policy.

"We recognise concerns raised around the healthcare energy recovery facility and are continuing to respond as appropriate."

They added: "The amount of materials moving through the new site is not changing from current and therefore traffic changes will be insignificant

"Thorough and detailed studies have been undertaken as to traffic, air pollution, visual assessments and noise which are or will be available as part of the planning process."

More than 100 protestors gathered in St Ives town centre last September while a Q and A session was being held by with Envar.   

The healthcare waste will come from local hospitals, including Hinchingbrooke Hospital and doctors and dentists who require high temperature destruction.   

A decision on the planning application is expected by Cambridgeshire County Council’s Planning Committee within the coming months.