At the Plans Panel East meeting earlier today, the general message was clear to Veolia.
Under light interrogation, the executives who delivered Veolia’s hour long pre-application planning presentation was told that councillors needed more clarity about the dynamics of the site and the impact of the 75ft chimney to the surrounding area.
“I asked a simple question and they haven’t been able to answer it,” said Coun Michael Lyons (Lab, Temple Newsam). He was adamant throughout the meeting that someone should answer his question.
When the environmental impact assessment comes out in April, Veolia will formalise its proposal to take over the former car-boot sale site in Cross Green Market.
Once they’ve submitted their planning permission application, the Plan Panel will decide whether to press ahead. The panel acknowledged they’ll probably extend the usual 16 week turnaround period to come to a conclusion though it looks likely to be passed.
Then the public will have 21 days to have their say before construction begins early next year.
Veolia said 300 jobs would be created for the construction of the 3.3 hectare site. And they’ll need 45 permanent staff when the plant goes into its 24-hour a day operation.
Up to 70 of Veolia’s own dump trucks will bring waste in and out of the plant everyday – the council has around half that many trucks collecting waste – which will pick up the household rubbish we produce directly from bins rather than a central location.
The incinerator will have greenery, cycle routes and a small car-park around the main facility. Veolia’s excutives also talked about a ‘green living wall’ which will have flowers and trees on the side of the buidling. But local residents won’t be able to see it as it only faces the main road, not the houses.
“Can we actually see the photos from the perspective of where the nearest houses will see it?” said Coun Peter Gruen (Lab, Cross Gates and Whinmoor). The nearest home is 300 meters away from the north side of the proposed incinerator.
Coun Ralph Pryke (Lib Dem, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill), voted for the incinerator when the council was in a Lib Dem – Conservative coalition. But he had evidently done his homework asking considered questions.
“In all the documentation I have seen,” said Coun Pryke, “I’ve not seen anything about any payment for the site. Is Veolia paying rent to LCC for use of this site, or are you buying it from the council, or is it in effect free land and that’s why you’ve chosen to build your facility here?”
John O’Sullivan, Project Director at Veolia said: “Because the facility is essentially paid for by the council, in discussion with the council’s procurement process, it seemed circular, shall we say, for us to pay for the site that in the end we would have to recover that money back from the council.”
Veolia have consistently pointed out that 200,000 tonnes of black-bin waste in Leeds currently goes to landfill and is financially and environmentally unsustainable.
Councillors now have to weigh up how this controversial plant affects residents against the commercial imperatives of burning waste.