Brakes on bio power
Scottish ministers call for environmental impact assessment
Campaigners against the proposed energy from waste plant at Carnbroe have welcomed a Scottish Government intervention insisting on the production of an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
Ministers last week issued a direction calling for the report to be submitted before an ongoing appeal from applicants North Lanarkshire Bio Power can be progressed any further.
It reverses the previous position which considered that an EIA would not be required as the application is for an amendment to an already-consented project.
Permission for a waste plant at the former Shanks & McEwan site was first granted on appeal back in 2011.
Bio Power is appealing against North Lanarkshire Council’s unanimous decision in April to refuse permission for their proposed changes to the existing plans – including trebling the height of the plant’s ventilation stack to 80 metres.
Fulton MacGregor, the Coatbridge MSP, called the directive to produce an environmental assessment “the most significant decision on this issue for some time and a very welcome one”.
He said: “For the first time, the Scottish Government has become involved and shown that the SNP truly does listen to communities and, importantly, acts on what we hear.
“I want to congratulate Maggie Proctor and everyone involved with the MRAPP campaign who have fought tirelessly to reach this point.”
Labour candidate Geraldine Woods, who is standing for the party in this month’s Coatbridge South by- election, said: “I’m delighted that the application has been halted whilst an EIA is carried out.
“The question remains – why do the Scottish Government believe it is now necessary when they’ve repeatedly said the opposite? What caused them to reassess?
“For the past 10 years, campaigners have fought against these unwanted and unnecessary plans. This issue is far from over, so it’s important to keep the pressure on.
“My congratulations go to Maggie Proctor and MRAPP who have fought tirelessly against these plans.
“I’ll cont i nue the fight alongside my party colleagues to ensure that this incinerator never goes ahead.”
Ca m p a i g n g ro u p Monklands Residents Against Pyrolysis Plant ( MRAPP) called the ministerial development “good news for all our supporters” in a Facebook post, thanking people for their “unwavering support”.
They added: “What does it mean for us? A further considerable delay to incinerator plans we have been holding off for almost 10 years.
“This is yet another battle won, while the war continues.
“Scottish ministers obviously realise what this means to North Lanarkshire and the effect an incinerator can have on the environment.”
The appeal relates to North Lanarkshire Bio Power’s application to alter the planned pyrolysis plant by increasing the annual fuel tonnage and energy output, halving the footprint of the processing building and improving access arrangements, as well as increasing the stack height.
It was turned down by councillors earlier this year, who shared the concerns of objectors – including 1300 signatories on a Facebook petition, 250 people who submitted letters, three community councils and seven MSPs – such as the potential impact on health, pollution, traffic and proximity to homes.
The official letter issuing the screening direction notes that it “supersedes the terms of the council’s screening opinion and [ Scottish ministers’ ] previous letter regarding screening of this proposal dated May 2.”
A spokesperson for North Lanarkshire Council told the Advertiser this week: “The Scottish Government has requested that North Lanarkshire Bio Power undertake an EIA in relation to their appeal.
“An EIA was carried out in relation to the original application for the pyrolysis plant in 2009.
“When the company submitted an amendment to that consent to extend the plant, the council did not require another EIA to be carried out.
“That decision was supported by the Scottish Government. However, the government has reviewed the matter as part of the appeal, and requested that an assessment is carried out.”
A letter from the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division sent last week to interested parties noted: “The screening direction directs the appellant that Scottish Ministers consider that this is an EIA development.
“The Reporter is aware that the appellant has questioned the legal basis of the direction Ministers have issued.
“The Reporter does not intend to take any substantive action on the case until the EIA has been submitted, or the matter has been resolved.”
North Lanarkshire Bio Power declined to comment.
Another battle won, while the war continues