Opponents lose battle over refinery's green energy plant
PLANS for a controversial green energy plant in the Swansea Valley have been approved despite opposition from residents.
The proposed plant, at the nickel refinery in Clydach, would produce enough energy to power the whole refinery, in addition to a further 5,000 homes, according to applicant Vale Europe. And it argued it would indirectly safeguard 207 jobs, and create 12 new permanent posts, plus temporary construction jobs.
There was some opposition to the proposed plans, with residents wanting to know exactly what waste material will be used in the plant, and concerns over emissions.
A decision was due to be taken last month, but was deferred pending further ecological information.
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And this week, following recommendation from officers to approve the plans, councillors on Swansea Council's development control committee gave it the go-ahead.
Clydach councillor Gordon Walker said: "I think the plant is a good thing. There will be less emissions coming than if coal was being used, and there has been a full environmental assessment.
"There will be around six stations monitoring air quality, and the excess electricity being generated will be pumped back into the grid. It will be equivalent about ten wind turbines."
A report by planning officers revealed that in addition to a 38-name petition of objection, concerns had been raised about the proximity of the plant to homes in Ynystawe. The Bwllfa and Spion Kop Residents Association also suggested that residents in Ynystawe were not fully informed about the proposal.
According to the application, the plant will work by turning thousands of tonnes of plastic and biodegradable waste into a gas via a pyrolysis process. The gas is then burned to generate electricity, with the waste gases heading up a new 41-metre chimney stack.
Vale Europe says the plant could deal with up to 48,000 tonnes of waste per year — preferably from local suppliers — and slash the refinery's entire carbon footprint by almost half. In addition to planning permission from the local authority, Vale Europe will require a permit from Environment Agency Wales to operate the plant.
A planning report which went before councillors said a human health risk assessment had concluded "the potential health impact on 'receptors' in the vicinity of the works are not considered significant, and that potential exposure to emissions from the proposed advanced energy facility will not pose unacceptable risks".
And recommending the scheme for approval, planning officers concluded: "The proposal is not considered to have unacceptable impacts in terms of air quality, flood risk, ecology, human health, transport and visual impacts."