Decision on valley energy plant put on the back boiler
A DECISION over whether to give the green light to a controversial waste-to- energy plant in the Swansea Valley has been put back.
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 would indirectly safeguard 207 jobs, claims the company, and create 12 new permanent posts, plus temporary construction jobs.
But objectors want to know exactly what waste material will be used in the plant.
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The application came before Swansea Council's development control committee on Tuesday, with a recommendation from officers that it be approved.
But a decision was deferred, pending further ecological information.
A report by planning officers revealed that in addition to a 38-name petition of objection, the Pontardawe and Swansea Angling Society said no-one seemed to have taken into account that its members consume some of the trout, sea trout and salmon caught nearby on the River Tawe.
The Countryside Council for Wales had also objected to the plans on the grounds it would affect air quality but had withdrawn their objection after reviewing an extended survey.
Clydach councillor Gordon Walker said residents wanted reassurance that any new plant would not adversely affect the quality of air.
He said: "People are a bit concerned about air quality.
"They want reassurances it will be up to European standards."
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.
The planning report which went before councillors said a human health risk assessment had concluded that "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 amenities."
Clydach councillor Paulette Smith said residents wanted assurances about exactly what would be emitted at the plant.
She said: "A lot of people have concerns, rather than objections.
"It is new technology and they have nothing to compare it to.
"They want to know what is being emitted, and if there are any health issues."
The application is next due to be considered by councillors on October 2.