The government today further underlined its support for waste-to-energy projects, giving the go ahead for Ineos Chlor to construct a 100MW combined heat and power plant in Cheshire, despite local opposition.
The proposed plant will take waste from all around the north west which would otherwise go to landfill.
Locals opposed the scheme amid complaints that the burning of waste would increase local air pollution levels. However, the size of the plant meant that it could bypass local planning officials and energy minister Malcolm Wicks today gave it the green light.
"While acknowledging that this proposal was controversial locally, this approval takes into account the concerns that were raised," said Wicks. "The key concern of impact on public health will be properly addressed through planning conditions at the construction stage and when the station is operational through the environmental permitting regime regulated by the Environment Agency."
The combined heat and electricity produced from the power station will be utilised at the nearby INEOS Runcorn Site, a major chemicals manufacturing complex.
Waste-to-energy plants have stirred up considerable opposition from some green groups in recent weeks with Friends of the Earth recently signalling its opposition to the raft of proposed new incinerators.
In July, it joined with campaign group the UK Without Incineration Network (UK WIN) to release a map showing that more than 100 waste incinerators are currently being planned across the UK.
Critics of the technology claim that because up to a third of the waste burned is derived from fossil fuels, the plants are still relatively carbon intensive when compared with other forms of renewables.
However, the government has made biomass facilities - including waste-to- energy plants - a key component of its recently published renewables strategy, outlining plans for such facilities to produce up to six per cent of the UK's electricity by 2020.
Ineos Chlor insisted it had undergone an extensive public consultation during the planning process.
"We are pleased the minister is satisfied that the proposed development will not pose a threat to human health or the environment," the company said in a statement. "We recognise that for some local residents concerns will remain and we are absolutely committed to providing information about the development as it progresses."
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