Jul 13 2011 by Judith Tonner, Airdrie & Coatbridge
PLANNING minister Aileen Campbell was met by anti-pyrolysis protesters when she visited Coatbridge last week.
Dozens of residents opposing Shore Energy’s plans to create an energy-from-waste plant at Carnbroe were in place with placards and posters as she arrived to see the town’s £18 million Buchanan Centre.
They took the chance to ask why the Scottish Government had not called in the developers’ appeal last summer, and expressed concerns including the potential health effects.
Ms Campbell met with the group from Monklands Residents Against Pyrolysis Plant (MRAPP) for several minutes, but informed them she was unable to give views or comments as the matter is now subject to judicial review.
North Lanarkshire Council – who originally unanimously refused the application last year – are pursuing the overturning of their decision by public inquiry reporters by going to the Court of Session.
The minister told the Advertiser: “I had to explain that there’s a process being followed and that I can’t comment on matters going to judicial review.
“I took on board their concerns; they’ve clearly done a lot of research and are a very motivated group of people, but I can’t comment on this particular case.”
MRAPP leader Maggie Proctor had told Ms Campbell as she met protestors: “People need you to understand the depth of feeling and what we’ve got to lose.
“This isn’t the way forward for Coatbridge; it would be a massive step backwards and the views of local people have been totally disregarded.
“We feel let down by the planning system as 6000 people and rising say no to this and our council said no to this – is that democracy?”
She later told the Advertiser: “We had a great turnout despite only finding out about her visit late the previous night, and I think the minister was quite taken aback to see us.
“Now she knows that we’re a force to be reckoned with – we aren’t going to go away and she must realise how important this issue is.
“We made the point that we don’t want this plant so near our houses and schools, and that as she’s a mother, she should understand how people feel about this potential threat.
“She said that any emissions would be monitored by Sepa but if she thinks they’re the answer to incineration, how wrong has she got it – they aren’t going to stop emissions from happening.
“The minister said she couldn’t comment on the issue because of the court process, but we were pleased that she made time to speak to us.
“A lot of people in the crowd have been really angered by the lack of response from her office and from Alex Salmond’s regarding their emails, and we wanted her to understand the strength of feeling.”
Ms Campbell was visiting the town on a tour of North Lanarkshire with council leader Jim McCabe and chief executive Gavin Whitefield.
She visited Coatbridge library, which recently marked the first anniversary of its relocation to the centre, which also houses a range of council and medical services.
Ms Campbell said of the Buchanan Centre: “It’s fantastic and a real asset to North Lanarkshire, providing a one-stop shop for local people.”