People power wins the Cheney Manor biomass battle
5:30am Thursday 13th March 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
PEOPLE power is being hailed as the victor as controversial plans to build a biomass plant in Cheney Manor have been officially thrown out by the council.
Energy company Pure Green met with fierce opposition from residents, who were concerned the facility, which involved burning wood to create energy, would be damaging to their health.
A decision on the site was due to be made last August but it was deferred as more information was requested. However, after months of attempting to make contact with Pure Green, council officers received no response and so formally disposed of the application on Tuesday.
It means that effectively the matter is now closed and there will be no biomass plant built at Cheney Manor. Residents campaigned hard to stop the application and in November handed over a petition with 700 signatures to the council. Yesterday they were celebrating the decision.
Among them was Terri Jones, 60, of Bruce Street, who thanked everyone who had helped in the battle.
She said: “I believe I speak for most residents when saying ‘common sense prevails’ following the announcement that the application is finally disposed of. We’re proud of Swindon and it’s progressive thinking. This application was a huge step backwards.
“Many people have been involved in opposing this. Most importantly, many, many residents in the immediate area, all those who signed petitions, turned up at the Civic Offices to have their voices heard and numbers counted.
“I would just like to say to those in power, ‘please take into account your voters’, and council tax payers’ welfare when considering applications’. After all, you’re the caretakers of the town and its residents, so take care when considering such matters for the town, its residents and their interests.”
Councillor Des Moffatt (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney), who originally helped bring the matter to the public’s attention, said: “This is a victory for the people. It is a great result for everyone who fought it as they were concerned about their health. It shows that if people get together and do not allow themselves to get deflected from the main issue they can win.”
Coun Dale Heenan (Con, Covingham and Dorcan), the cabinet member for strategic planning, said: “Throughout the planning application by Pure Green, residents have been critical of the quality of the application and this was a facility that was not wanted or needed in Cheney Manor.
“We asked residents to trust the planning officers to follow the correct procedures which they have done which means there will be no future discussion on the application.
“Residents and ward councillors ran an effective and non-political campaign against this biomass plant which was successful.”
Hippofan, the parent company of Pure Green, was not available for comment.
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