We’ll put incinerator plan back ‘in grave’

b11-795  Protest against Covanta, Stewartby Village Hall.  JE   wk 27 ENGPNL00120110607184254
b11-795 Protest against Covanta, Stewartby Village Hall. JE wk 27 ENGPNL00120110607184254

A “dead and buried” plan to build a power station in a former quarry has been resurrected with a the formation of a new partnership.

Residents near the Stewartby brickworks had hoped they had heard the last of the plan to develop of an “energy recovery facility” in Rookery South Pit.

But US firm Covanta is back, this time with French company Veolia, and hopes to get building the power station by late 2017.

The company estimates it will create enough energy for 65,000 homes by burning “municipal, commercial and industrial residual waste from the surrounding area”.

Bedford Borough Councillor for Elstow and Stewartby said Tim Hill said the plant will not be built without a fight.

He said: “The plan was off the table because Covanta decided it wasn’t economically viable to build it. Nothing has changed so we are confused.”

He said planning permission was granted in 2013 but it expires in February 2018. The partnership will also need an Environment Agency permit to operate, which has never been issued.

Councillor Hill said: “What we can do as a local community is lobby the Environment Agency not to give one this time.

“We can also look at the contracts to collect waste. There are none coming up for tender in the area surrounding Bedfordshire, so where are they going to get the waste from? It could mean 150 lorries arrive every day to feed it.”

He added: “Last time, the borough council said it will not use this facility as it is out-dated technology for managing waste.

“We will do our damnedest that this will not reappear. We want it back in its grave.”

A Covanta spokesman said the facility will create around 300 jobs during construction, with 40-50 permanent roles including apprenticeships. It is also designed to be combined heat and power ready to allow for the future development of local district heating.

He added: “In the coming months, the project team will work to achieve final approvals and complete project financing.

“The team will also engage widely with key stakeholders and consultees, including reconvening a community liaison panel, to ensure that the development has minimal impact on the local communities and environment.”