FAMILIES in a tiny seaside village fear their quality of life will be damaged by plans to build a £250m green power plant near their homes.
People in 84-home North Blyth, Northumberland say the eco-friendly tag placed on the proposed 100-megawatt biomass generating plant disguises potentially harmful impacts on their community.
They have voiced concerns that the station – planned for the Battleship Wharf cargo handling site on the banks of the River Blyth – will create noise, traffic and emissions problems, tower over their homes and affect house prices.
Residents are making their concerns known via Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery and local councillors, as green energy company RES prepares to submit a formal planning application later this year.
The biomass plant, which would provide enough renewable electricity for 170,000 homes a year, will create between 200 and 300 construction jobs, and between 40 and 50 permanent posts.
It will include a group of fuel storage buildings up to 25 metres tall and a 60/70m-tall boiler house with a chimney up to 100m tall.
RES carried out local consultations last year and claimed a 75% positive response to its proposals.
However, a number of North Blyth residents say they are convinced the plant is too big, will be less than 100m from the nearest property and will generate nitrogen dioxide emissions, dust and noise.
Among those opposing the plan are Paul Crossland and his wife Carol, who live in Dale Street. Mr Crossland said: “No one is under any illusions this plant will affect house prices down here. People won’t want to buy houses that are overlooked by this massive plant.”
Leanne Carr, who lives with her husband Paul in North Blyth, said: “We like living here because it is a nice little community. We don’t mind industry but this plant will be too close for comfort. It is right on our doorstep and will affect our quality of life.”
Residents say the plant will mean an extra 62 lorry movements a day through North Blyth and Cambois, but this could rise to up to 264 if there are problems with materials being shipped in.
A decision on the project will be taken by the Government, guided by a recommendation from the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), which now handles major developments.
Yesterday RES project manager Neil Bond said it was hoped a formal application would be made to the IPC in the autumn. He was aware of the concerns raised by North Blyth residents and had given responses to the local MP and the county council.
RES plans to offer local people the chance to visit a working biomass plant, to assess issues such as noise and visual impact, and is in the process of setting up a community liaison group for residents in North Blyth, Cambois and Blyth.
The Battleship Wharf plant will burn between 500,000 and 900,000 tonnes of imported biomass fuel per year.