Bilsthorpe: councillor urges village unity over plant plans

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Plans to build a waste recycling plant at Bilsthorpe have been labelled ‘totally unacceptable’ by a local councillor leading opposition to the proposals.

Waste management company Peel Environmental have submitted plans to build a 3.7-hectare facility at Bilsthorpe Business Park.

But the idea has met with strong opposition, led by coun Bruce Laughton, who represents the village, and nearby Eakring, on Newark and Sherwood District Council.

He has urged all local people to attend the next village parish council meeting on November 4 at Bilsthorpe Village Hall (7pm start) and register their opposition.

“The residents of Bilsthorpe have had to put up with a lot, what with the pit closure, foot and mouth, the wind turbines and the household waste recycling centre and tip,” said coun Laughton.

“They feel completely exposed and that nobody cares, which is not fair because they are really good people and it is a smashing community. Everyone else is moving on and Bilsthorpe is being left behind.

“The technology for this is new and other plants like this have been closed down, so that is a worry. I also understand some of the rubbish will come from 150 miles away - how is that sustainable?

“Just because Bilsthorpe is off the beaten track, it seems people think they can ride roughshod over it. People are making good profits on the back of other’s misery.

“The more support we get at the meeting strengthens our arm. We have a cross-party consensus on this and I have already spoken in front of the Newark and Sherwood Council councillors to ensure we have solidarity.”

Petitions against the plans for what Peel Environmental call a gasification plant and locals an incinerator have already been signed by more than 900 villagers from Bilsthorpe and Eakring.

Peel Environmental have yet to submit plans that will go to Nottinghamshire County Council and a decision would not be expected until a few months later.

It means the issue may not be resolved until the middle of next year, but Newark and Sherwood MP Mark Spencer (pictured), who is keeping a close eye on the situation, has urged people to have their say now.

He said: “It’s my job to reflect the views of the community and though I have had a couple of letters of support, the vast majority are against this.

“I don’t see the need for it because there is already the means of dealing with our waste because we have the Eastcroft incinerator already within the county with enough capacity.

“There are worries over the amount of traffic this is going to bring, issues about the odour that will be created and how many jobs will go to local people.

“If it was 40 jobs for Bilsthorpe then it would be a different conversation, but people are likely to come from all over the country.

“If people are against this then they have to make their feelings known now because there will be no use complaining about once it happens.”

But Richard Barker, development manager at Peel Environmental, insisted everything was being done to allay concerns.

He said: “Our plans for the Bilsthorpe Energy Centre represent an investment of £70m, and will recover up to 23,000 tonnes of recyclables, with the remaining waste used to prepare a fuel to generate energy.

“Having knocked on the doors of residents in Bilsthorpe and Eakring and held public exhibition events in July, we know that the potential for employment opportunities from the proposed development is important to local people.

“That is why we have commissioned economists Regeneris Consulting to look at local job-seekers and their skills and how these link with employment opportunities at the Energy Centre. We are expecting the results of this report shortly. “That said, we already know that the facility will create up to 46 permanent jobs and over 300 during the construction period, with the likelihood that some of the construction workers employed will be from Nottinghamshire.

“We expect to submit the planning application for the Bilsthorpe Energy Centre to Nottinghamshire County Council shortly, and will inform the local community about this when we do.”