You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website
I would like to once again thank voters in Washington and Sunderland West for re-electing me in the December General Election.
Whilst the national election result was not as I hoped, I remain as committed as ever to delivering for all of my constituents.
That means standing up for our local area and everyone who lives here.
One of my first appearances in the new Parliament was this week, when I presented a petition to the House of Commons signed by constituents who oppose the building of a gasification plant in Hillthorn Park.
Like thousands of my constituents, I am opposed to the building of this plant in our area.
The main reasons for my opposition to the plant are threefold:
1) The location of the proposed plant is close to houses and schools. It is these communities who will bear the brunt of increased traffic and associated pollution, and who are most at risk should anything go wrong with the plant.
2) The applicants have failed to satisfy any questions from myself and campaigners. We still do not know what technology will be used by the plant if building goes ahead, for example.
3) The proposed plant could be expected to release millions of tonnes of CO2 during the anticipated lifetime of the facility. This will undoubtedly have a negative impact on our environment and climate change.
As I said at the Planning and Highways Committee meeting in July, where the application was rejected, my constituents should not be used as guinea pigs; the health and lives of my constituents should not be gambled with.
Although the planning application was rejected in July by the Planning and Highways Committee, the application is now up for appeal, which will be held for 8 days from 10am on Tuesday 18th February at the Stadium of Light’s Montgomery Suite.
Because so many of my constituents have expressed concern about the planning application, I have written to the Planning Inspectorate and the National Planning Casework Unit to request that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government recovers the appeal, which if approved, will give the Secretary of State the final say on the application.
I will continue to work with constituents, campaigners and local councillors to oppose this plant and raise this issue in Parliament.
If you would like to get in touch with me about this issue, or any other concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office on Sharon.email@example.com. Please provide your full postal address.
On Tuesday 21 January 2020, Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, presented a petition to Parliament signed by constituents who oppose the building of a gasification plant in Hillthorn Park, Washington.
Approximately 10,800 people have signed petitions opposing the building of the gasification plant since 2017, with people raising concerns about health and safety, the environment, congestion on roads and the affect on nearby house prices.
The gasification technology that will be used by the plant has not yet been decided by the applicant, causing concern about safety.
The planning application was rejected in July by the Planning and Highways Committee, but has been appealed by the applicant. The appeal will begin on Tuesday 18th February.
Sharon, who also opposes the building of a gasification plant said:
“The planning application for the gasification plant is deeply controversial and has led to many of my constituents writing to me to express their concerns.
“That so many people have signed petitions over the last three years proves just how strongly the people of Washington and Sunderland West oppose the building of this plant.
“I share their concerns and I am also opposed to the building of this plant. That is why I am pleased to present this petition to Parliament today. I will continue to take actions to oppose the building of this plant.”
The petition reads:
“The Petition of residents of Washington and Sunderland West Constituency,
Declares that the petitioners oppose the building of a Gasification Plant in Hillthorn Park, Washington.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to recognise the opposition to the planning application; and calls on the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to reject the planning application 17/02085/MW4.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.”
Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Dec-Jan 2020 number 123
On Friday 19th July, Sharon spoke at the Planning and Highways Committee meeting regarding the proposed application for a gasification plant to be built at Hillthorn Farm. During the meeting, Councillors voted to reject the planning application.
You can read Sharon's speech below
** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY **
I’m the MP for Washington and Sunderland West and the proposed site for this application is in my constituency.
I am here today to represent the views of my constituents, as they have been expressed to me over the last two years.
In my 14 years as an MP no other issue has galvanised my constituents to campaign against something than what is before you today.
Whilst the vast majority of complaints have understandably come from Washington residents, I don’t actually want this plant built anywhere near any of my constituents. In Washington or Sunderland.
I would like to begin by expressing my disappointment that this meeting is being held in Sunderland, rather than in Washington where the proposed site is, and in the middle of the afternoon as that has limited who could attend due to work or care commitments – as well as the distance to travel.
My constituents in Washington are very proud of its heritage and industry.
However, communities feel they are becoming the victim of Washington’s excellence, with industries – such as the waste processing sites cluster in Teal Farm – being akin to the nightmare neighbour next door.
Many of my constituents have told me they are worried that Washington risks becoming the dumping ground of the whole region and beyond!
If this gasification plant is a regional or national necessity, why can’t it just be built well away from homes and schools?
As one constituent wrote to me, and I quote:
“The people of Washington do not want this monstrosity built near to where we live and work.”
As I mentioned, some communities in Washington are already suffering as a result of nearby industries.
Building a waste gasification plant in Washington may attract more of the same problems that residents living near existing industries face such as: vermin, flies and odours.
The applicant has failed to confirm what waste will be used in the feedstock, or how it will be treated.
This is particularly relevant in light of the experience of the residents in Derby, who have had two years of foul smells from the Sinfin gasification plant, despite all the reassurances given by the operator at the planning application stage .
In terms of this application, the Environment Agency are unsatisfied about the technical detail with respect to the odour management system.
Surely the Committee cannot approve an application that fails to satisfy the Environment Agency, and the concerns of my constituents, who will have to live alongside it?
Waste will be coming from across the Northern region, in 110 HGVs a day, which will have significant adverse impacts on both transport congestion as well as recycling rates in the region.
The pollution that would be emitted from the stack and from the transport to and from the facility would also have serious adverse impacts well beyond the immediate locality.
We therefore do not know the short or long-term health and environmental impacts that an approved plant in Washington would have on the local and wider population.
Last year, I held a meeting with constituents and the applicant managing company, Rolton Kilbride, to discuss concerns about the proposed plant’s technology.
They were unable to confirm what technology or feedstock would be used and a year on we are still none the wiser. This is deeply alarming.
What they did say though is that the technology would be similar to one used in Japan; but never one previously used in Europe.
The people of Washington should not be used as guinea pigs for technology used for the first time in Europe.
My constituents are concerned about several matters not just how close the proposed site is to thousands of homes and ten schools all within a mile radius, but also the effects on air quality, public health and impact on house prices.
There is also the very real danger it could pose to any metro extension to Washington.
Therefore in conclusion, knowing the anxiety of constituents and the lack of information from the applicant, could you really approve this application with a clear conscience?
I called the application in to the Secretary of State in August last year, but that should not be used as a safety net for the Council.
Please don’t gamble with the health and lives of my constituents – they deserve their elected representatives to have their best interests at heart at all times and this is too important a decision to get wrong.
The proposed gasification plant at Hillthorn Farm in Washington is at the next stage of the planning process. On 19th July 2019 at 4:30pm, the application will be referred to the Planning and Highways Committee at The Stadium of Light.
I share the concerns of my constituents about this plant and have applied to speak at the Committee hearing. If you are one of my constituents and would like to share your concerns with me please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To view the letter in full and find out how to apply to speak at the meeting, please click the image above
Sharon receives a response to her letter (of 13th Dec, 2018) requesting an update from Sunderland City Council, regarding the gasification plant application in Washington.
Click on image above to download letter.
Sharon has written to Sunderland Council for an update on the proposed gasification plant application in Washington.
Click on image below to download the letter.
On invitation by Sharon Hodgson MP, Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, attended a rally on 1st October 2018, in opposition to plans for a waste incinerator to be built in Washington.
“I think the close proximity of residential properties is really quite shocking and I hadn’t appreciated until we came to the site.
“I feel very strongly that the environmental considerations should be uppermost in decision makers minds.”
Sharon, who has been opposing the plans, said:
“It was great to have Andrew visit the site today and speak to local residents who will be affected if these plans go ahead.
“I share my constituents’ concerns that the technology of the incinerator plant is not tried and tested, and that the proximity to local residents could pose a threat to their health and safety.”
Sharon has recently ‘called-in’ the planning application to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, meaning that if the Council approve the planning application it must be reviewed by the Secretary of State.
The planning application is yet to be submitted to Sunderland Council.
You can read Sharon’s letters regarding the incinerator here.
Click the above image to download the letter
Sharon has received the above response from the Planning Casework Unit regarding the Rolton Kilbride planning application. The call in request has moved to the next stage.
Click on image above to download letter.
Sharon has written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, requesting a call-in of the Rolton Kilbride planning application.