Council makes dramatic U-turn over Sutton Bridge gasifier scheme

Shirley Giles by Sutton Bridge Power Station'Photo:  SG 301013-TW ENGANL00120131030125555
Shirley Giles by Sutton Bridge Power Station'Photo: SG 301013-TW ENGANL00120131030125555
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Council officers have done a U-turn to recommend refusal of a proposed gasifier power station at Sutton Bridge a year after planning consent for the controversial plant was overturned in the High Court.

South Holland’s planning officers changed their minds because applicants EnergyPark Sutton Bridge have for seven months failed to answer a series of key questions – including the fuel to be burned and its source.

But the scheme isn’t yet dead because the council’s planning committee could go against its officers when they meet next Wednesday, March 18.

And even if a refusal is agreed then, the company will have 12 months to supply the information the council has requested and planning consent could still be granted.

Parish councillor Shirley Giles, who won a High Court battle to overturn the original planning consent, has vowed to go on fighting until the plan is finally killed off.

She said: “My lawyers are waiting in the wings. I am hopeful this is the end of it, but we don’t know until the application is actually refused and if they do come back we have just got to start again.”

South Holland MP John Hayes said the council had done the right thing in recommending refusal and paid tribute to Mrs Giles’ contribution to the fight against the scheme,

He said: “I never needed persuading of Shirley Giles’ case because I always believed in it, as she knows, but it is clear the case had to be made and there was no better person to make it than Shirley, who is the champion of Sutton Bridge.

“The people of Sutton Bridge – and I think all of the residents of South Holland – owe Shirley an immense debt of gratitude.”

South Holland’s planning manager Paul Jackson said the council asked the developers for additional information on August 13 last year with a deadline of the end of that month, but nothing was received by the deadline or since.

He said in September the company had called off a meeting with the council two days before it was due to take place.