Plans for a new ‘green’ energy plant have been narrowly approved despite hundreds of objections.
The Port of Tyne had submitted proposals for Howdon Green Energy Park, which would generate up to 25 megawatts of renewable energy each year using ‘gasification’ technology to convert waste into energy.
But the proposed 2.8-hectare site at Howdon Yard, Tyne View Terrace, in Howdon, sparked objections from nearby residents – some of whom lived 180 metres away.
North Tyneside Council’s planning committee received 53 letters of objection, plus 45 standard letters of objection, and two petitions signed by 90 and 312 people. There were 20 letters of support.
Residents said their quality of life was already affected by the sewage treatment works and recycling plant, and said the smoke from the proposed power plant would add to the problems.
They also said it would have a negative visual impact on the landscape and deter other businesses from moving to the area.
Speaking at the planning meeting on Monday, local resident Peter Spark said: “North Tyneside will be receiving waste from around the UK, all transported here.
“People already living next to this site have a number of issues around air quality and toxic fumes.
“The air emissions from this plant would cover most of North Tyneside and South Tyneside.
“If this application is going to be successful, who is going to protect the residents?”
Fellow resident Graeme Cansdale said: “The technology is unproven, it is an experiment which has not worked anywhere in the country.
“There are questions on its reliability and safety. It is an expensive gamble.”
Riverside ward councillor Bruce Pickard questioned the need to bring the waste from Teesside to North Tyneside when there were mothballed sites in Teesside that could be used.
Officials at the Port of Tyne said the multi-million facility – to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week – would create up to 1,000 jobs during construction and once built, including 120 apprenticeships.
Andrew Moffat, chief executive of the Port of Tyne, said they had plans to develop the Port further and needed sources of income, which the energy plant would do.
He said: “The profitability of the business would increase 50 per cent if this goes ahead.
“We will put in places measures to address any issues that arise.
“We have a reputation for doing things the right way and are determined that will continue with this project.”
Committee members voted six to five in favour of the application.
Coun John O’Shea said: “This development will bring about economic benefits and employment benefits to the locality.
“We have assurances from officers over the environmental impact and gives me confidence this can be well policed by the council and Environment Agency.”
But Coun Frank Lott had concerns over the impact the plant would have on residents.
He said: “What I have heard is a lot about intentions but there have been no guarantees.
“There are serious concerns about the viability of the plant.
“It will have an adverse impact on the environment and landscape.”