Northwich campaigners protest against powerplant development in Cheshire (with audio)

PUBLISHED: 11:48 10 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 20 February 2013

Campaigner's placards

Campaigner's placards

People in Northwich are banding together to fight a plan to build a new power plant near their homes, as Paul Mackenzie reports With narration by Sandbach and District Talking Newspaper

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Liam Byrne is a seasoned campaigner who is not used to losing. And he doesn't intend to end his winning run now. After five successful community campaigns, one against a coal fired power station in Northwich and another in support of a local hospital, he is now flexing his muscles against a plan to build a sustainable energy power plant near his home.

'It's an incinerator,' he insists. 'They want to burn 600,000 tonnes of rubbish a year which they'll be transporting from all over England to a Wembley Stadium sized incinerator less than a mile from Northwich town centre. At best it's irresponsible, at worst it could be disastrous.'

The 250m plan has been put forward by Brunner Mond who want to build the plant on the site of a disused coal fired power station on land they own at Lostock. The plant would use solid fuel - from biomass and pre-treated waste - to provide about a third of heat and electricity needed by the company's two sites in Northwich.

The company is the UK's sole manufacturer of soda ash which is used in the glass, detergent and pharmaceutical industries and has its headquarters in Northwich where it employs 500 people

They are keen to stress the environmentally-friendly credentials of their proposal which, they say will help reduce the company's reliance on fossil fuels and will reduce the amount of waste going to landfill sites.

But Liam, and his fellow members of Chain - the Cheshire anti-incinerator network - dispute Brunner Mond's claims. 'This is not a green scheme, it's anti-green,' Liam said.

'It will discourage recycling and will mean hundreds of extra vehicles coming here from all over England. We are also concerned about the emissions because as yet there has been no medical research into the effects of clusters of this kind of incinerator and this one, if it happened, would be the fourth in a small area.'

The campaign group has staged demonstrations about the proposal and has organised a petition against the scheme which contains more than 14,000 names, including that of George Osborne the Conservative's shadow chancellor and Tatton MP.

Liam said: 'Brunner Mond are behaving arrogantly and are insulting the intelligence of local people by operating in a low-key, sneaky way and not giving the full facts of what they are proposing.

'This incinerator would benefit a small number of Indian billionaires who own the company and would have a terrible impact on the people who would have to live in its shadow. Property values could fall by anything up to 20 per cent, the impacts on our health are unknown and the town centre would be ruined. How bad does it have to be for this insane plan to be stopped?'

Liam, who was originally from Dublin, has lived in Northwich for 20 years is a retired mechanical engineer and HR officer in the food industry. He is quick to dismiss any suggestion that there is an element of 'not-in-my-back-yard-ishness' to the work of Chain.

'This is not a Nimby campaign, far from it, we welcome any investment in Northwich - including investment by Brunner Mond - but it has to be responsible and to be of benefit to the town. This is neither.'

Not so, says Ladan Iravanian, Brunner Mond's project manager. 'We are doing this to preserve our future. We employ 500 people in Northwich and thousands of families are dependent on us either directly or indirectly.

'A plant like this will generate jobs and we are hoping that by us being here and investing in our facilities, that it will be good for the company and good for the community.'

And Ladan, an Iranian who studied in Manchester and now lives in Knutsford, added: 'Brunner Mond needs a lot of energy and we are aware that we can not guarantee that we will be able to rely on gas to generate power in the future.

'This plant will be built on a brownfield industrial site, replacing a disused coal-fired power station. We want to communicate with our employees and the local community and will continue to share information with them as and when it becomes available.

'There are many tests to be done, negotiations to be had and regulations to be adhered to before a final decision can be made but if this plan was given the green light tomorrow, it would take around three or four years to build.'

Vote in our poll

Do you think the power plant is a good idea?

The people involved say it will reduce be environmentally firendly in the long term and create jobs in the process

Opponents say the proposal is bad for the environment, irresponsible and of no benefit to the town

What do you think? Leave your comments below

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