Bio-fuel plant fears are raised

News story
News story

RESIDENTS concerned about a potentially hazardous change of use at a bio-fuel plant in a Wigan village have been reassured they will be consulted on future plans.

The firm behind the Appley Bridge Biomass Energy facility announced earlier this year proposals to start a waste plastic to fuel conversion operation.

What concerns me about this latest plan is that with children living in the village, there’s a primary school nearby, it’s a very new technology and plastics contain carcinogens (a cancer causing substance) by the very nature of what they’re made of

Denise Fairhurst

This has prompted fears among residents about the environmental impact of highly combustible material being used as part of the process and criticism the firm has “jumped the gun” by announcing its plans before gaining local authority approval.

Officials say proposals are still at a speculative stage, no planning applications have been submitted and a consultation process is likely.

Approval was granted in 2013 by Lancashire County Council for a cooking oil to electricity conversion operation at the site, which was subsequently tweaked to include animal fats.

Residents have previously told the Evening Post they were less than satisfied with the consultation process for the original applications.

Denise Fairhurst, who lives close to the plant, said: “What concerns me about this latest plan is that with children living in the village, there’s a primary school nearby, it’s a very new technology and plastics contain carcinogens (a cancer causing substance) by the very nature of what they’re made of.

“Residents have not been consulted on any changes but have seen the release about the changes. My point of view is people need to know and need to be reassured about safety.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said no planning application has been received for the plastics operation and approval would have to be granted for such a process to take place at the plant.

A June statement by Bisan Limited, the parent company for P-Fuel which is the company looking to operate the new system, said: “P-Fuel and the UK based Appley Bridge Biomass Energy Limited will formalise a lease arrangement on an industrial park site for the construction of the first P-Fuel waste plastic to fuel commercial plant. The site is located at Appley Bridge near Wigan in the UK.

“P-Fuel has engaged the services of UK engineering consultancy group Stopford Projects Limited who are working with P-Fuel to apply for planning and environmental approvals to build, construct and operate the plant.”

David Wilkinson, spokesman for Stopford, said: “Any plans are speculative at this stage and no applications have been submitted. I think there has been some misinformation circulated, I am sure in the future a public consultation will take place.”