PRELIMINARY work has begun at Biossence’s proposed waste gasification plant near Eastham, with around 500 jobs expected to be generated by its construction.
Dr Ralf Trottnow, managing director and founder of the firm, told Wirral News he plans to source workers from the local area and envisages around 30 permanent positions being created once the project is up and running.
Dr Trottnow said: “The main activity at the moment is to discharge the planning conditions.
“Consent was passed last year and we are just waiting for the planners to give us a discharge document.
“We have started to do some site work in habitat areas, moving some of the species, other than that proper site construction work is planned to start early next year.
“I think the only change will be to build the facility in phases.
“We might not actually build a 400 ton building in the first phase, but we are fully committed to moving forward.”
The news comes a week after Dr Trottnow met with Wirral Council leader, Cllr Jeff Green, alongside officers, to assure them no incineration of waste will take place at the plant.
Cllr Green said: “There were rumours that the processes carried out at the site could change but I am reassured that waste will be treated by gasification and not burnt.
“Gasification is not only more efficient, but also allows clean gas production, which is a key factor in protecting the river corridor and encouraging inward investment for the area.”
Dr Trottnow said: “This has always been the case.
“We’ve always worked extremely closely with Wirral Council and I’m very pleased that the new administration that came into power in May is continuing in the same spirit. We will keep them informed of progress.”
The proposal has not been without controversy, with residents living around the Hooton Park site fearing the introduction of intensive waste treatment processes could impact on their quality of life.
Eastham Cllr Phil Gilchrist said: “Residents have been concerned about what the process would finally turn out to be.
“Would it be one that doesn’t release things into the local atmosphere?
“When it’s working properly people have confidence but there’s always a worry about the safeguards.
“We’ve always been told by the Environment Agency (EA), and the planning conditions, that there would be monitoring devices that would clearly register what was going up the chimney flue, and that any problems would be identified and challenged, so there is some confidence in that but the final details are still not agreed.”
The EA told Wirral News it “hasn’t received anything” from Biossence concerning the Eastham plant.
But Dr Ralf Trottnow seemed to consider this part of the process to be in hand.
He said: “This is underway.
“We have to have a full EA permit before we start our operations.”
This isn’t a new procedure for the London-based firm, with similar facilities opened recently in both the capital and Wakefield.
Cllr Phil Gilchrist added: “If all the issues I’ve raised are properly got to the bottom of, then the process appears acceptable.”