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 [email protected]
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.
Sharon has received a response to her letter on 27th July.
If any constituents have any queries about this response, please do email Sharon and we will forward your concerns on to Rolton Kilbride and the Local Planning Authority at the Council for you.