Residents feel betrayed and dismayed that the organisation who promised to improve the former steelworks site is now planning to build a 50-metre tall waste incinerator on their doorstop.
The Hownsgill Energy Centre will incinerate commercial and industrial waste and residents fear it will bring disastrous impacts on their health, the local landscape, and will create unpleasant odour and noise.
Developer Project Genesis Ltd, which was established to regenerate the former Consett Steelworks site into an environmentally sound place to live and work, now wants to build a waste incinerator close to the centre of the town.
If it goes ahead the incinerator will be located at Hownsgill Industrial Estate, which is in close proximity to old and new housing estates in Consett, will stand at 22 metres with a 50-metre high stack – taller than any other building in the area and will be visible for those living on The Chequers and Knitsley Road.
The proposals for the creation of the incinerator have faced a determined backlash from residents who are concerned about the devastating impact it will have. “It’s a kick in the teeth for us,” said Christine Thomas, who is one of the residents leading the “Say No To Consett Incinerator‘ campaign, “we trusted Project Genesis to regenerate our town and make it a better place for us to live since the demise of the steelworks, and the irony is that this incinerator will be detrimental to our health, the prices of our homes, and the aesthetics of our landscape.
“it’s also concerning that the planning authority registered and renamed the application to energy from waste facility and supporters still insist that it is not an incinerator.”
The Heritage Consett and Sunderland Railway Path will also be adversely impacted with the development being visible along much of its length. Helen Corbett-Hope moved to Consett with her young family, drawn by its beautiful, natural surroundings, “we were delighted to find a home so close to the Coast-to-coast cycle path, offering a relatively peaceful, green setting, she explained, “and as parents of an autistic child who suffers from anxiety, these qualities were paramount to us;his sensitivity to noise and smells would not be upset, and on days we want to stay close to home or he refuses to get into the car, we have the wonderful cycle track on our doorstep so he can get the fresh air and exercise he needs to regulate himself, in natural surroundings.
“If the incinerator goes ahead, all of those qualities that drew us to our family home will be completely jeopardised. The negatives for our family, and all residents to Consett and the surrounding area, cannot be substantiated by the implied positives.”
Concerns have also been raised that residents have not been consulted in accordance with legislation and best practice. Emma Watson, 42, who says she is terrified for the health of her five-year-old daughter, said, “only a handful of residents directly facing this proposed monstrosity received notice from them and if it wasn’t for social media the rest of us may not have found out.
“Project Genesis said that they couldn’t have a public meeting or forum to discuss this with us due to Covid-19 and seem oblivious to the fact that they could have arranged an online meeting which is what the rest of the world has been doing over the past year. Instead, they tried to pass this through without fully consulting the residents knowing full well how outraged the people of Consett would be. The people of Consett will fight this all the way for our children, our future generations, and our town.”
Nearly 4,000 residents have joined the campaign, which has seen them signing a petition, writing objection letters, organising leaflet drops in and around Consett, and displaying protest banners and posters throughout the town.
Niamh McDonald, a local resident and undergraduate student at Newcastle University, is also supporting the protest, “as a young person who has grown up in Consett hearing stories of the Steel Works and ‘red dust’, I think an incinerator in our town would be very damaging. We need to be able to celebrate but move away from our industrial heritage and invest in a green future for our town. We can’t let this incinerator go ahead and take Consett backwards by 50 years.’
The Facebook group has a template objection letter for residents to use. All objections should be sent to Planning@durham.gov.uk quoting planning reference DM/20/03267/WAS.
The Facebook group is at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/665610114135682