500 signatures reached
To: Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Stop the Biomass Experiment in Sutton Bridge
Dear Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
You were made aware by our local MP that there is considerable unrest in Sutton Bridge about a proposal to build a Biomass Incinerator/gasifier close by. South Holland District Council Planning Committee has only paid minimal lip service to residents’ concerns, proclaiming that they are giving planning permission for a building. There is no consideration for either its function, the traffic chaos that will follow or the certainty of toxic emissions that will enter the food chain via local farm produce and fish stocks in The Wash.
You yourself have said, "Making electricity from biomass based on imported wood is not a long-term answer to our energy needs—I am quite clear about that."
It's not a long-term answer and it will furthermore be a complete waste of money & resources, not to mention the long-term deleterious effects on the local and wider environment.
We ask you to prevent the installation of this experimental and unproven technology on our doorstep.
Why is this important?
This petition comes about because an organisation called PREL (Peterborough Renewable Energy Ltd) has a plan to build a Biomass Incinerator/Gasifier on the outskirts of Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire. The residents are more or less united in their opposition: in a local poll 95% of those voting were against the proposal.
As a result of a sustained PR stunt, we were led to believe that PREL was a local organisation but it turns out that it is part of a global outfit; all the reassurances we were given about links with the community and dealing with problems as they arise will therefore no doubt go by the board.
PREL’s story has changed down the months from burning straw, waste food & wood products in their proposed plant to burning wood pellets, which is counted as carbon-neutral even though it apparently takes the lifetime of a new tree to reabsorb the carbon emitted when an existing tree is burned. In fact, biomass incineration on a commercial scale is unsustainable unless, it’s probably no exaggeration to say, the planet’s forests are all cut down. A global disaster.
The production of ‘wood pellets’ and the transporting of at least 350,000 tons of them every year to the proposed plant will cause far more global warming than the experiment is supposed to reduce; harmful toxins released from incineration (or gasification) will get into the foodchain via farm produce in the area and fish stocks in The Wash.
The figures vary but estimates of traffic movements suggest that there will be one 20 ton HGV in and out of the plant every five minutes, using a main road that is often already very congested, turning into a by-road that will be completely overwhelmed. Lincolnshire Highways have blithely asserted that the road system will be able to cope without amendment.
In spite of the UK Government’s much trumpeted Localism agenda, local opinion is discounted as being of no relevance to the planning application. What we have observed renders the Localism Act totally meaningless: in spite of the official vote (29 in favour and nearly 500 against), held on a cold, dark, wintry night in December and a door to door petition with nearly 1000 signatures, we have had no say in the actual planning process. It is not just the biomass industry on trial here; it is also the veracity and workability of the Localism Bill.
Sutton Bridge is a small village with a population of around 3000, made up mostly of retired people and artisans, neither of whom have much of a crusading spirit, but serious concerns of residents which have been expressed have been brushed aside by the so-called ‘planners’.
We are just a couple of miles from the Wash, a very sensitive and important ecological area, an internationally important bird migration site and the largest nature reserve in the country. This so called 'green government' seems prepared to risk all this in pursuing an energy policy that will fail. The combustion of Biomass does not subtract from current pollution levels—it adds to them.
Of course, this is a local issue but, considering the hit and miss nature of Government Energy ‘Policy’, it has huge ramifications both nationally and globally. You could be next on the list—turbines, incinerators, and most recently, fracking.
A question that is hardly ever asked is—What is the point of producing energy if the environment is despoiled?
Why not just get people and organisations to Switch Off!