Teal Energy has reacted angrily to communities secretary Eric Pickles’ decision to call in its proposed energy recovery facility in Swanscombe, Kent.
Director Paul Sadler told MRW: “It is my view that the decision to call in the Teal Energy proposal is fundamentally wrong and sends a conflicting message to the industry. Once again the Government meddles while infrastructure crumbles.”
The project is an advanced gasification CHP energy recovery plant with an output of around 23MW of electricity and 40MW of heat. It would consume around 250,000 tonnes of solid recovered fuel a year.
The proposed facility had been granted planning permission in September by Kent County Council (KCC) before Pickles called in the decision at the end of October.
The department has been aware of this application for 18 months and has the power to call it in at any time. So why now?
Paul Sadler, Teal Energy
However, the project faced opposition from Dartford MP Gareth Johnson and from within KCC itself, according to local reports. In September the News Shopper paper reported that KCC cabinet member Mark Dance was “disappointed” that planning permission was originally granted.
Sadler complained about the timing: “Despite being approved by KCC in early September the Secretary of State has delayed the calling in decision for almost two months. The department has been aware of this application for 18 months and has the power to call it in at any time. So why now?”
The director said the decision was disappointing and made him question the the Government’s commitment to alternative sources of renewable energy.
He added: “Teal Energy has worked closely with KCC to ensure that the proposals met all their stringent requirements for a plant of this type.
“It has to be emphasised that the plant is a standalone energy producer and does not handle any fuel preparation of any kind on site. The fuel is prepared by professional, specialist, national recycling companies contracted to meet strict recycling targets and fuel purity.”
Sadler said that Eric Pickles had indicated that proposal “may conflict with the aspirations of the newly announced Ebsfleet Garden City (EGC)”, which he argued was at odds with the Government’s renewable energy policy.
“It is hard to consider that the Teal Energy proposal conflicts with either the aims or practicality of the proposed EGC and regeneration of the surrounding area,” said Sadler.
“It is situated in an ideal isolated location cut off from the residential proposals and providing an immediate encouragement for the redevelopment of the local area. The site is supported by both Dartford and KCC local plans which in turn are supported by mandate of the EGC.”
In a statement KCC said it was unclear what role it would take in the future, due to the upcoming creation of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC), which will be responsible for developing the proposed new Garden City.
Once the EDC is launched in early 2015, it will incorporate large parts of the surrounding eras – including the site of the proposed Teal Energy development.
KCC said: “Once established, planning powers for the purposes of determining current and future planning applications for the area would transfer to the EDC.
“The specific role of KCC in the Teal Energy local inquiry will therefore be guided by the timeframe for the establishment of the EDC.”
MRW is awaiting comment from the Department for Communities and Local Government.