POLITICAL opponents have joined forces to say no to plans to build a mammoth indoor recycling centre in Brierley Hill.
Dudley South Conservative MP Chris Kelly and adversary Natasha Millward, Labour’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for Dudley South, both turned out to throw their weight behind a campaign to see off a controversial proposal by Clean Power Properties to build a £40million energy recovery centre on old railway sidings.
The pair joined residents and members of the Brierley Hill SNOW* (Say No tO Waste-site) campaign on Saturday March 1 at the entrance to the Moor Street site, on which power company bosses want to build the high-tech centre which would use anaerobic digestion processes to convert food waste into energy.
After the plan was rejected by Dudley Council planners last summer – Clean Power bosses have now lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate at Bristol, despite earlier pleas from residents and Mr Kelly MP to give up their proposal gracefully.
Objectors fear the centre would create pollution and unpleasant odours, decrease house prices in the area and result in more lorries trundling along busy borough streets - further damaging already deteriorating roads.
Chris Kelly MP said: “When Dudley Council rightly rejected the planning application I wrote to the chairman of the company urging that they not appeal the local council's democratic decision so naturally I was disappointed when Clean Power did appeal, hence I joined local residents and ward councillors at the protest.”
Natasha Millward added: “Many of us are concerned about this proposed development.
“Families don't want lorries trundling along residential roads all day. They don't want to walk out of the door and inhale noxious air. Local people deserve better.
“This is why I'm joining residents and on this occasion, Chris Kelly, to fight to keep their environment as it is today.”
Bosses at Clean Power, which is working to develop similar facilities at 12 other sites across the UK, say the proposed Brierley Hill centre would bring up to 30 new jobs to the area and produce renewable energy for up to around 10,000 homes.
They have also dismissed concerns the centre would release unpleasant odours – saying the air-tight design of the proposed building would mean smells could not escape; and they say traffic movements would be restricted to 70 vehicles a day.
A spokesman said the company had “worked extremely hard to demonstrate the centre’s suitability and to take on board feedback”.
Residents’ action group SNOW* reignited its campaign against the facility at a public meeting on February 26, at Insight House, Brierley Hill, attended by around 70 residents.
Group spokesman Tim Lee said: "Brierley Hill SNOW* has cross party support. We're optimistic Clean Power's appeal will be refused but it's important for the community to play an active role in opposing the appeal.
"Residents can do this by making written representations to the Planning Inspectorate by Tuesday March 18, and by volunteering to help the SNOW* campaign steering group."
He said the group would be taking the unusual step of applying to the Planning Inspector to be allowed to appear as a full party at the inquiry, expected later this year, with equal status to Clean Power and the council."
Anyone wishing to join the campaign group can call Tim Lee on 01384 936652 or email firstname.lastname@example.org