Biomass plant campaigners pay off £46,000 legal bill
CAMPAIGNERS trying to stop a controversial biomass plant being built in Port Talbot have finally paid off the £46,000 bill they were hit with following a failed legal action.
It has taken them five years to raise enough money but they have hit their target thanks to massive support from residents.
The achievement will be celebrated when they gather outside Port Talbot Civic Centre today, when the latest application relating to the Prenergy Power Station is put before council planners.
PT-Raps protest group members went to the High Court in 2008 for a judicial review of the decision to allow the wood-chip burning station to be built in the docks area of Port Talbot.
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They argued it would worsen the town's air pollution problems.
When they lost, they not only had to find £26,000 to cover their own legal bill, but were ordered to pay £10,000 each to Prenergy and Government solicitors TSOL.
It seemed like an uphill struggle for the eight-strong PT-Raps committee. But group member Jeremy Bailey said constant fundraising and overwhelming public support meant it had been achieved.
Mr Bailey said today's protest action in Port Talbot was also a celebration of that achievement.
"We have now paid off all the costs of the court case — the final lump sum to TSOL has been paid this month," he said.
"That is due in large part to the generosity of the people of Port Talbot. They have been 100 per cent behind us.
"Sometimes Port Talbot is talked down but the people are 100 per cent committed to the things they believe in.
"People have given a lot of money. All the committee members have been giving on a monthly basis but I would say half of the money has come from the public, so we want to thank them for that."
Planning permission for the £400 million biomass plant in Port Talbot docks was granted in 2007 — but there is no sign of building work starting.
As the Post reported yesterday, the company's latest application involves changing the type of fuel used from wood chips to wood pellets.
It is recommended for approval, with conditions.
However, the application has been brought before the committee at the request of Sandfields councillors Ted Latham and Collin Crowley, which suggests it may not simply be rubber-stamped.
Mr Bailey said PT-Raps still maintained the proposals were unsustainable.