A proposed masterplan for an energy park development has come under fire at a Northamptonshire council meeting, with residents complaining that it is a greenwashing tactic. More than 2,300 people have signed a petition against the plans.
Public speakers raised issues with the plans for Kettering Energy Park at Burton Wold, to the east of Burton Latimer, at an NNC planning communities advisory panel on Wednesday, November 15. Objections included the destruction of countryside, the amount of warehousing and a huge increase in traffic and resulting emissions.
Developer First Renewables’ vision is to add to the existing wind farm at Burton Wold, using the land for hydroponics facilities, solar farms, and employment zones with warehouses up to 30 metres tall. They say the park will improve resilience in the energy network and respond to the current energy crisis.
Councillor Adrian Watts, who spoke on behalf of Burton Latimer town council, said: “Burton Wold is a unique historic and environmentally important part of Northamptonshire. The master plan, which has been drawn up without proper consultation of local communities, would destroy forever 150 hectares of good agricultural land.
“Even the officer’s report states that in terms of climate change and sustainable development, the sustainability of the proposals on balance is questioned. This is not Kettering, it is not an energy park, and we urge you not to approve this.”
A consultation on the master plan was carried out between March and April 2023, of which the feedback was mainly negative. The finished project is estimated to bring 5,500 jobs and £167m in wages per annum into the local economy, however alongside this will bring over 16,000 vehicle movements per day.
Councillor Paul Rothe, of Finedon town council, said that additional traffic bringing increased noise and pollution levels was a “major concern” and that the infrastructure of the A6 and A510 “cannot handle any increase of volume”.
NNC received an open objection letter from 14 town councils in the local area. Many disgruntled members of the public also attended the meeting, applauding the public speakers who denounced the development.
Councillor Mark Dearing said: “We are quite frankly missing the point here- this is an energy park, not a warehouse park. I appreciate that there will be warehousing involved in this but 70 per cent of B8 warehousing is simply unacceptable.”
NNC have highlighted demands for an extra 480,000 square metres of logistic floor space by 2041, however Cllr Dearing argued that this could be fulfilled elsewhere by extending existing warehousing facilities in North Northants.
A spokesperson for First Renewables told the meeting: “Irrespective of where development occurs it always has some form of negative impact and development’s main focus through planning is to look at how it mitigates that.
“It’s really about supporting the provision of additional infrastructure which is lacking in this country at the moment. There has been investment into this site previously for energy and we think there can be an awful lot more to get greater resilience into the energy network.”
Developers noted that there was still a long way to go with the plan and that they are committed to carrying out further engagement with the public and town councils.