Tyne & Wear

Washington 'monster incinerator' inquiry paused

Protestors outside the public inquiry
Image caption Protesters gathered outside the Stadium of Light on Tuesday, where the inquiry was due to start

Campaigners opposed to proposals for a "monster incinerator" near Sunderland have welcomed a last-minute decision to pause a public inquiry.

Rolton Kilbride wanted to build a renewable energy centre to supply power to Nissan and other local businesses.

Thousands of residents opposed the scheme at Hillthorn Farm, Washington, and Sunderland Council rejected it.

A public inquiry was due to begin but the company, council and the landowner all requested an adjournment.

About 100 campaigners, including local MP Sharon Hodgson, protested outside the Stadium of Light - where the inquiry was to be held - before it emerged it was being put on hold until June to allow "commercial negotiations" to take place.

Image copyright Rolton Kilbride
Image caption The plant would have stood 57ft (17m) high

Ms Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, described the adjournment as "great news".

She said: "Over the last three years, constituents have contacted me over concerns about public health, climate change, road congestion and the impact on the local landscape.

"That is why I was pleased to support the calls for an adjournment as this could lead to our ultimate goal: no gasification plant being built at Hillthorn Park."

Andrew Needham, from Rolton Kilbride said the company had been approached by the council to consider "alternative options to our proposals for a renewable energy centre".

"These commercial options are now under serious consideration in the spirit of cooperation and seeking to find a mutually acceptable solution", he said.

"As would be expected, our talks are commercially sensitive and confidential, but we would hope to make further announcements in due course."

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