“I don’t know, ask me next year” says Larkfleet chief in response to local questions on environmental impact.

On the eve of a planning application, Larkfleet bosses appear unable to answer basic techical questions with respect to environmental impact and employment opportunities, telling local residents to ask them next year.

Local residents gave Larkfleet director Peter Coe a thorough grilling at a shambolic and little-advertised public drop-in information event held on the Tuesday 11th July. Despite the lack of notification, sceptical locals arrived throughout the afternoon asked a series of hard-hitting questions on the environmental impact of the plant. Residents and business owners emerged scathing and critical of the dearth of information and poor levels of presentation.

The Larkfleet Group, which owns both Tarbolton Landfill and Ayrshire Waste Management, aim to submit a planning application the week beginning 7th August 2017, yet the local community is still at a loss with respect to the real environmental impact.

Locals complained that Larkfleet had not prepared a computer-generated montage of the site in situ with the countryside, showing the degree of visual pollution, and their schematic indicated a terrifying possibility that the power station buildings would be more than twice as high as the existing recycling facility. Larkfleet’s aerial map was at least three years out of date and did not show the existing facility either, thereby depriving locals of visual information with which to assess impact. Larkfleet did confirm that the facility would be painted green. 

Worse still, Larkfleet refused to disclose the footprint of the proposed building, the levels of CO2 emissions, and their literature failed to mention that toxic ash waste is produced by the plastic burning process. When asked to outline the route taken by the trucks carrying the ash, Mr Coe and his colleagues were unable to answer. Mr Coe eventually admitted that around 3,000 tonnes of toxic ash would be produced per annum which would be taken by road to a facility near Falkirk. A similar facility in Dumfriesshire was closed down by SEPA in 2013 when fire gutted the plant during the commissioning phase.

When Larkfleet directors were asked how many quality, permanent jobs would be created in the community for local people, Coe responded with a vague “up to 35.” When asked for exact numbers, he declined to respond. When asked about the height of the chimney stack, which will emit thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases contaminated with carcinogens into the atmosphere, he responded that he didn’t know, and locals should ask him next year (presumably when the company have obtained blanket planning permission).

Larkfleet did admit there had been no environmental impact studies done and claimed not to know what plant machinery they were using, despite a planning application imminent, and could also give no guarantees there would be no further applications to process or store hazardous or clinical waste at the facility in the future. When asked if waste would be brought up from England or other parts of Scotland, Coe would only confirm that “most” waste would come from Ayrshire, but refused to be drawn on actual percentages.

Local residents and business owners were less than impressed.

“[Larkfleet] appear to have come to an information day with no actual information,” said one local canvassed on leaving the event.

“[Larkfleet] got a loan for this, the bank knows more than we do,” said another.

Other locals in Mossblown and Tarbolton were outraged they had not been able to attend the event, held in the middle of school holidays and poorly advertised, despite proper notification being a legal requirement under the Town and Country Planning Regulations 2013. 

LJ McDowall, a local author and poet, emphasised the importance of preserving the Burns Country and the natural heritage that inspired Scotland’s national Bard for future generations. “This proposed power station will produce dirty energy and toxic waste, and there is no evidence that Larkfleet’s claims of environmental sustainability are true,” she said. “Moreover there is no evidence that this development will provide quality local jobs, and considerable concern exists that local employers, homeowners and businesses will be impacted if land and water become contaminated and visual pollution blights the countryside. There remains the significant risk of accidents and spills, with a complete lack of clarity on who will foot the bill for clean-up and decommission. A power plant that produces CO2, carcinogenic fumes and toxic waste can make no real claim of sustainability.”

The next public information day to be held by Larkfleet is on 26th July, 1-7pm, at Tarbolton Community Campus. Stakeholders have until 31st July to provide feedback to the company.

 

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