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Local concerns over pyrolysis proposals

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'The more we find out about this proposal, the more worrying this

‘The more we find out about this proposal, the more worrying this plan is’: Nia Griffith

CONCERNS have been expressed over the financial history of a company behind the plans for a pyrolysis plant at Cwmgwili in Carmarthenshire.

Two of the men linked to the company behind the pyrolysis application are Manish Chande and Martin Myers. The Herald can reveal that both have a long and ‘interesting’ record of businesses in property development and services. The pair ran Imry, a property developer that got into such a financial mess that it caused Barclays to write-off the largest bad-debt in its history.

As it stands the council do not consider the financial history of an applicant for planning permission. However, Nia Griffith MP has raised concerns about the application process following revelations in The Herald about another company; Loca Ventures Ltd who were apparently behind plans to develop Parc Howard.

The Llanelli MP told the Herald: “Councillors on planning committees have to judge applications strictly on planning grounds, but really they ought to be allowed to take into consideration the track-record of the applicants. Who are the people behind the company? What experience have they got of running a pyrolysis plant? How many other companies have they been directors of? What happened to those companies? What if they (the council) find that a company behind Clean Power Properties has been chased for owing hundreds of millions? Wouldn’t that make councillors think twice about granting them permission to bring in stacks of rubbish to use in processes of which they have no experience, with the risk that they would go bankrupt and leave the council taxpayer footing the bill for clear-up?”

Nia Griffith is not alone in her concerns as local residents have also expressed fear that councillors could be being taken for a ride by a company which will do the hard sell on its proposals, take the subsidies offered and then be unable to make the plant pay its way. That would leave open the possibility of the site being left in a contaminated state worse than it now is.

The Resident

David Evans lives at Plas y Fforest, which is a housing estate close to the proposed development.

He told the Herald: “I discovered that Carmarthenshire has a great track record at recycling so I questioned why we needed this plant.

“There was a deceptive nature to what the proposal was about. It started as a solar farm but it is not a solar farm. There are going to be some anaerobic digestive systems and then it was said it would be a pyrolysis plant. I could see that opposition groups were saying it was an incinerator and the definition of pyrolysis is ‘incinerator’. The photos I saw of the proposed plant didn’t show the chimneystacks

“I learned that a pyrolysis plant needs to operate 24 hours a day seven days a week three hundred and sixty five days a year to be efficient. We currently process 30,000 tons a year in Carmarthenshire and to keep this place going would require more than 300,000 tons to operate.”

Mr Evans asked: “Where will the rubbish come from? What is the impact on the environment? These are straightforward questions we would like answered. The company refuses to meet the opposition group on the grounds that ‘they will never be satisfied’. It is worrying to have to wait to see what they are going to do rather than be consulted at every stage of the process.”

The Expert

Campaigners have been bolstered by the expertise of Tumble resident John Simmonds. Mr. Simmons is a Plasma Physicist and a Lecturer at the European Energy Centre on Renewable Energy Systems. He is also a Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow. He is currently on the Committee of the Plasma Physics Group of the Institute of Physics as well as on the Committee of the Welsh Branch of the Institute of Physics. His area of expertise is power generation and control.

He told The Herald, “It appears that they may be using environmental agency documents, with the reference numbers removed, which doesn’t show that this is part of the process here or otherwise. He went on to say, “Every document that has come through from CPP or its agents has left more questions due to the contradictions. CPP say that the calorific energy of 1KG of MSW is roughly half of 1kg of coal.

Asked about the potential hazards relating to the proposed plant he said, “Aside from the normal gas mixtures coming out of the plant there is a very high risk of explosion. When you have oxygen as ionised gas, which it is in a pyrolysis machine, the high levels of oxygen above atmosphere can cause an explosion in the presence of any kind of spark. If they miss a piece of metal or if the gears are coming around and they scrape against metal then an explosion can happen. There have been a number of explosions in plants like this around the world.”

“My standpoint is as a local resident. It is close enough where I will have to breathe in these toxic fumes. When Dawnpac burned they could smell it in Llandeilo over 17 miles away. To say one would be exposed to toxic fumes up to a 17-mile radius from this plant is not unreasonable. The siting of this plant at the gateway to Carmarthenshire will deter future investment in the Cross Hands sites in which the County Council has invested so much.”

After asking Mr. Simmonds for his verdict on whether the plant should be approved he gave a very succinct answer. He said, “There is no reason to approve a plant like this based on the premise that this is supposed to be an economically viable process that is going to make them money they have yet to show that this is going to be economically viable let alone the safety implications. If this goes belly up after a number of years and the council have scrapped their recycling programme it is going to cost the taxpayer. There is not enough rubbish to be had for a plant like this.

They are saying they need 195,000 tons to burn. If we remove the moisture that would go down by half so they would need close to 400,000 tons. Even the whole of South West Wales only sent 125,000 tonnes of MSW + C+I waste to landfill, and this figure is decreasing year on year. At the same time the 4 anaerobic digesters need a flow of organic matter. That rubbish has to be filtered too. There are hazards at every step. If it comes from elsewhere we are depending on others to say that they have done their job right.

Given the expertise I have and the apparent lack of expertise within the company I have no confidence that they can make this happen.” The Land Owner Anthony and Gemma George live at New Lodge Farm, which is a residential property situated yards from the proposed development. The company were keen to meet them to discuss their plans.

Mr. George told the Herald, “We went to a meeting in Chepstow with a RLAND Energy Ltd and they came in with a laptop, which was older than anyone else’s laptop I have ever seen. They showed us the pellets they would be producing and our solicitor immediately told them what they were showing us was in fact rabbit food pellets. If you wanted a mortgage the bank would want to know your history.

These people want millions and nobody seems to check up on them. It looks like they will be taking the government for grant money. RLAND Energy Ltd sent a letter to Mr. And Mrs. George making them an offer for New Lodge Farm The property has been valued in the past at £240,000 but CPP offered them £75,000 eventually upping it to £100,000. The property is also home to a specialist garage, which employs local people and supports local businesses. The Impact Nia Griffith raised concerns about the impact it would have on the environment including traffic issues on the already notoriously dangerous stretch of the A48 between Crosshands and Cwmgwili.

She told the Herald, “As it is designed for 350,000 tonnes of waste when Carmarthenshire only produces 30,000 tonnes per year, that means a lot of waste coming in from elsewhere, and that means a continuous stream of slow moving lorries trying to exit and enter the A48 just past the Cwmgwili junction. Lorries are all supposed to go up the slip road to the food park and down again to access Cwmgwili but residents fear they will just go round Cross Hands roundabout adding smelly lorries to summer congestion.

There are also very real fears about the effects on human and animal health of potential emissions from the plant, and the dangers of fire or explosion.” A similar type of plant in Dumfries in Scotland has been plagued by problems. In 2007, The Sunday Herald revealed that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) slapped an enforcement notice on Scotgen, a company trying to commission a pioneering “energyfrom- waste” plant at Dargavel in Dumfries. This followed an admission that the plant breached safety limits by emitting more cancer-causing dioxins than permitted in October 2013, and then failed to promptly inform Sepa. It has been ordered to restrict operations, and ensure that monitoring results are provided as soon as possible.

Scotgen is also under investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following a “pipe burst” at the Dargavel plant in August 2013. According to a report, nearby pipework and a roof were damaged by a steam explosion. The Llanelli MP has expressed graveconcerns regarding the proposals saying: “The more we find out about this proposal, the more worrying it is. Information we have obtained has revealed that to be viable this waste plant will need to receive more black bag rubbish than the total volume sent to landfill in the six counties of South West Wales put together. The action group has also carried out research into potential emissions which makes for frightening reading, and they have heard from residents living near other similar waste stations about the stomach-wrenching odours produced by the piles of black bag rubbish and organic waste waiting to be processed far worse than anything coming from Nantycaws now.”

Speaking about the impact on fauna and flora she said, “Highly polluted waste water and run off from the heavily contaminated land seems destined to go into the River Gwili which borders the site, and goes straight into the Burry Inlet with its unique shellfish industry. Speaking to experts, we have discovered that there would appear to be serious shortcomings in the technical specifications, such as the lack of specific data on the processes to be used, making it impossible to calculate the nature of the emissions that will be produced.

To raise the temperature sufficiently to make these processes work, the plant would need a constant supply of the high energy components in waste, such as cardboard and plastics.” Nia Griffith also questioned why the council were considering burning waste rather than recycling when they are ranked second out of 182 councils in the UK in waste recycling efficiency. She told the Herald: “Carmarthenshire currently recycles. So deciding to burn rubbish instead of recycling would be a very backward step indeed. There are also significant dangers associated with the build-up of oxygen which has resulted in explosions and loss of life elsewhere.”

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Arlene hunter

    September 4, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    I live in whitehill hamilton scotland we are always fighting hard to stop a site like this to be built in our community our local council refused planing Scottish government overturned this decision the company hear wanting to build is xalled Clean Power we have a big fight on our hands .

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