THERE were angry shouts and tears from protesters as a planning committee gave the go-ahead to a hugely controversial energy plant for Keighley.
People shouted “shame on you”, “disgusting” and “you’ll live to regret this,” as the committee approved plans for a £135m waste-to-energy incinerator on the former gas works site at Marley.
Earlier in the day, the campaign group Aire Valley Against Incineration had donned surgical face masks and waved placards outside Bradford’s City Hall as the council’s regulatory and appeals committee gathered to consider the matter.
An earlier application for a similar scheme on the same plot has already been passed by Bradford Council.
But it turned down subsequent amended plans and had received revised proposals from applicant Endless Energy.
Sarah Nash-Myers, of the campaign group, told the committee they had serious concerns about risks to health and the visual impact of the site buildings.
She said: “Make no mistake, this plant is huge. In terms of visual amenity, they could not have chosen a worse site.”
John Steel, agent for the application, said he understood health and pollution matters were “a concern to objectors” but said this was a matter for the Environment Agency - which would only issue an operating permit after a detailed assessment of the plans - rather than the council’s planning team.
He said the company had plants operating in 11 areas and asked whether this would be the case if there were legitimate concerns about safety.
And Mark Broomfield, a specialist consultant speaking on behalf of the applicant, said claims made by objectors that the plant would pose a risk to the health of children were “untrue” and could cause distress.
The meeting last Thursday heard the company had already started work on the previously approved plant and would build this instead if the new plan was refused.
Committee member, Bingley Rural councillor Mike Ellis, said: “What we have got to remember is that whatever happens, there’s going to be an incinerator built on this site.”
He said the new plans involved a thinner chimney stack.
But fellow committee member, Keighley Central councillor Abid Hussain, said he couldn’t support the scheme.
He said: “The health issue is very important because a school is very close to the project.”
The committee voted five-to-two in favour of granting permission.
But the matter will now be sent to Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid, who can choose to call in the decision for further examination.
The plans approved include two plants to recover energy from waste, along with a waste bunker hall, a turbo-generator hall, an education and visitor centre, offices, a workshop for plant operatives and associated parking and landscaping.
Around 3,000 opponents of the scheme signed an online petition and many more objectors flooded Bradford Council with comments.
Reacting shortly after the meeting, Bradford Green Party voiced concern that air pollution across the district would get even worse as result.
Party spokesman Matt Edwards said: "This is bad news for the people living in the Aire Valley. There is already a crisis in air quality across Bradford district and this scheme is going to make things worse".
He added that air pollution has been linked to cancer, lung disease, higher levels of infant mortality and, more recently, dementia.
And Keighley town councillor Ian Dermondy, who spoke at the meeting, said it was "a sad day for Keighley".
"The legacy being left for the generations to come is bleak," he added.
"We have gone backwards to the days of mill chimneys polluting our air within the valley."