Proposed incinerator south of Luton divides opinion among MPs

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Proposals for a large incinerator between Luton and Harpenden have so far divided opinion among the towns’ MPs.

‘Lea Bank Energy Park’ is a proposed waste-to-energy incinerator that would be based in New Mill End. It is the brainchild of Caddington-based company Emsrayne Energy Ltd, which owns two windfarms.

Although bordering Luton and Harpenden, the strip of land between the two towns falls within Central Bedfordshire Council – which is expected to receive a formal planning application in September.

Luton South MP Gavin Shuker has gone on record in support of the project, stating: “Lea Bank Energy Park is an exciting development for Luton and Central Beds and an essential investment into sustainable waste management and energy production for our future.”

The proposed incinerator was formally known as “Chiltern Green Energy Park” but Emsrayne Energy Ltd decided to change its name after complaints from residents.

Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchen and Harpenden, has been less enthusiastic after attending a public consultation about the scheme.

Mr Afolami stated: “Many residents in our constituency have expressed their deep concern about it – in particular, the environmental impact, the odour from the incinerator, and the extensive noise and traffic disruption that would blight the Lower Luton Road.

“I am very concerned about this, and there are many questions that the supporters of the plan have not yet answered.”

Already, a lobby group has been launched against the proposed incinerator, with hundreds of leaflets being delivered through doors in Harpenden.

One campaigner told Luton Herald & Post that he anticipated up to 260 heavy goods vehicle journeys could take place each day on the Lower Luton Road.

He added: “It will severely damage the environment which is beautiful green belt land and will pump toxins into Luton’s air 24 hours a day, which will add to the problem of the air quality in Luton.

“Imagine this and the airport expansion, with a possible extra 16 million passengers coming to and from the airport.”

Scientific arguments about the environmental impact of incinerators are divided, with no confirmed risks to public health despite concerns from campaigners. As an alternative energy source, it is particularly popular in Japan and EU countries such as Denmark and Sweden.

Emsrayne Energy Ltd stated: “Combustion emissions are filtered to ensure minimum levels released from the facility. This is continuously monitored to comply with national emission standards. There is no odour associated with this process.”

If submitted, the scheme will also be assessed by the Environment Agency which can refuse a permit if any risks to public health are identified. The developer also intends to make a substantial S106 donation to the community – to be spent in the area around New Mill – should permission be granted.

>For further information about the project, see the website www.lbep.uk.