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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Barrow MP steps aside on biomass meeting

A NEUTRAL chairman will referee a meeting to debate Barrow’s proposed biomass plant, after under-fire MP John Woodcock agreed to step aside.

But the councillor who urged Mr Woodcock to do so has refused to join him on the panel which will discuss the issue.

A row broke out last week after Conservative borough councillor, Ray Guselli, who is also a member of anti-power station group, Furness Opposes Biomass, accused Mr Woodcock of not being impartial enough to host a meeting about the issue.

The Barrow and Furness MP arranged the public meeting, to be held at The Forum at 6pm on Friday, amid growing public concern over Centrica’s plans to build a biomass power station at Roosecote.

But FOB, which he offered a place on the meeting’s panel, alongside representatives from Centrica and Barrow Borough Council, said he should not lead it because he had already made his views clear.

Mr Woodcock has now said he will sit on the panel, rather than chair the meeting.

He said: “I called this meeting to listen to the views of residents and give them the chance to hear a range of perspectives on this important issue.

“Of course, I also want to discuss my view that the proposal can be good for jobs and growth in the town provided strict environmental standards and other concerns are met; if it is easier to do that with someone else as chairman then great.

“But I hope that one of the councillors who has been spreading images of children and teddy bears in protective face masks will agree to be on the panel too.

“I am concerned that kind of message risks worrying families unnecessarily when the truth is that inspectors would not allow harmful levels of emissions to go ahead.

“So far, the leaders of the group have refused to meet me separately to discuss the issue but they should explain and be questioned on their views and tactics too.”

But Cllr Guselli said FOB would decline Mr Woodcock’s invitation.

He said Mr Woodcock had not consulted with the group to establish its availability, and the group’s “intended representative” was unable to attend.

Cllr Guselli added: “It is neither Furness Opposes Biomass, our preferred speaker or anyone else, including Centrica, who should be answering questions from the public.

“This is the opportunity for the MP to make clear to his constituents why, against the wishes of 5,000 (and increasing) who signed a petition opposing the plant, he ‘robustly’ believes it should be imposed upon us.

“It is the comments from the MP which will be influential in the planning process and which will likely guide and direct his Labour councillors to support the proposal.

“As a minority group on the council, Conservatives opposing the biomass plant will have no influence whatsoever and it is Mr Woodcock and he alone, who can influence the planning process.

“For that reason no one from Furness Opposes Biomass will be sharing the platform with Mr Woodcock, preferring instead to attend the meeting, as his constituents, to ask him, not Centrica, to respond to our questions.

“Within the membership of Furness Opposes Biomass is an all encompassing political spectrum; we will all happily join Mr Woodcock on stage, ‘as one’, when he supports the people and opposes the biomass plant with us.”

Have your say

I love number 2, Mark!

As for sea/tide, I'm sure this would be more reliable than wind and less visually disturbing for some too. But it is very expensive to install and specific locations have particular concerns - aesthetic and environmental with effects on wildlife potentially dire. It seems no form of producing energy is completely sound and uncontroversial.

Posted by Ron Creer on 30 May 2012 at 18:34

That's great to hear Ron nothing like standing up for what you feel is right just like FOB. Hence we live in a free state. And yes I agree always best to look at other forms of Energy: two really good ones came up at the meeting the other Friday night
(1) Use the sea or tide
(2) The one I liked rather than pay Centrica £42 million a year in subsidiaries. Use the money each year to put Solar panels on our roofs and reduce our energy bills. This also creates more jobs than the biomass plant in making and installing them plus its cleaner, greener and more energy efficient too. Just a thought!

Posted by Mark on 30 May 2012 at 15:00

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