With a dedicated website and a Facebook group now more than 1,100 strong, the NO Swindon Incineration campaign against the proposed ‘biomass’ plant at Cheney Manor, close to the town centre, says it is sending a loud message to the authorities about underestimating the will of the public to challenge commercial decisions that threaten communities.
The well-attended protests that have taken place at the Civic Offices since the summer demonstrate the strength of feeling against the plans for animal bedding manufacturer Hippofan to burn 55,000 tons of wood each year at an incineration site on Darby Close.
Cheney Manor resident and campaign leader Paul Saunders, is pictured right outside the proposed site by Richard Wintle of www.calyxpix.com
Aformer military engineer currently working as a services manager at Alcatel Lucent in Westlea, Paul has been researching the history of the proposal, and has discovered numerous decisions concerning the issue, which he described as “puzzling.”
He said: “Too many things are wrong, but haven’t been challenged. For example, initially a site at Groundwell was being considered, but this was dropped in favour of Cheney Manor.
“Simply from a transport point of view, this doesn’t make sense, since access via the A419 would be more straightforward than using Akers Way as an HGV route.”
Paul said the NO campaign is not motivated by ‘nimbyism’, and that no site in Swindon is suitable for an incineration plant of this type.
“My fear is that the proposals are driven by financial considerations alone, with no regard for the environment or what is best for local residents.”
Paul is also claiming there was a failure to follow due process in consulting with surrounding businesses and residents prior to submitting a planning application, and that a “cynical” attempt was made to falsely position Hippofan as a green energy provider, under the name Pure Green Ltd.
He is also pointing to alleged inaccuracies in the planning statement and “unrealistic” figures in the manufacturer’s business plan, including “unachievable claims of synergy with Swindon Borough Council’s own waste processing facility,” as well as other concerns.
Ahead of an anticipated public consultation in February, Paul said: “I feel that a lot of people have been duped by Pure Green, and I sense that Forward Swindon and Swindon Borough Council have made decisions that they are embarrassed to turn away from.
"Of all the business types that we could and should be attracting into Swindon, this is entirely the most inappropriate.”
Below: Paul Saunders at the proposed wood incinerator site at Cheney Manor Industrial Estate Photos: Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com