Corby Renewable Energy, Proposed Energy Recovery Facility, Corby
Clean Power Properties had already received planning permission to develop a modern Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) on a site in Shelton Road, Corby. However, before commencing the project, Clean Power reviewed its plans and decided there was a better technology that it could use at the site.
The new technology required a change to the planning permission. To allay concerns among the local community and Corby Borough Council the company decided to undertake a full new planning application supported by an Environmental Impact Assessment, in order to explain in detail to local stakeholders how and why the plans had changed.
From a developer’s viewpoint, the site was already designated for waste management uses under the Local Plan and it had previously been granted planning approval. However, from a communications standpoint, there were several challenges: first and foremost there were several incidences of historical birth defects in Corby linked to toxic emissions. While there was no evidence to contradict the safety of the technology proposed by the developer, there was a small but vocal opposition to incineration in and around the town. Coupled with the fact that a number of other EfW plants proposed for Corby, the opposition had proven that they were willing to mobilise and had previously garnered support from the local MEP and influential town councillors. Communications challenges were compounded by the site’s proximity to a local school and nearby housing estates, and due to the raised roof level and higher chimney stack required to house the new technology.
The brief was to develop a strategy and then deliver all elements of the public consultation and stakeholder engagement activity. Quantum’s strategy included:
- Undertaking a stakeholder audit
- Project branding
- Design of a public leaflet, press advert and exhibition boards
- Developing key messages and FAQs to support the proposal
- Design and development of a project website
- Arranging distribution of leaflet to local households and key stakeholders
- Establishing and managing a telephone information line and email address for queries
- Proactively liaising with stakeholders and politicians
- Organising and promoting a public event
- Political and media intelligence
- Proactive media relations
- Monitoring opposition groups and individuals on social media
- Drafting a full Statement of Community Consultation report
The plans and the public exhibition were widely publicised through an advert in the local paper (the Northamptonshire Telegraph, readership 41,304), a press release to local media, individual leaflets delivered to 3,500 residents and local businesses within a 2.5 mile radius of the site, a letter sent to 48 key stakeholders, and through the website.
Quantum also organised a meeting with Corby’s MP, Tom Pursglove, which gave the development team an opportunity to discuss the plans and the positive impact it would make on Corby’s economy and waste management capabilities.
A press release issued to local media resulted in coverage on the Northamptonshire Telegraph website along with an in‐depth radio interview on BBC Radio Northamptonshire (listenership ‐ 93,000).
Opposition to the proposals centred around the perceived impact on air quality and emissions, as well as increased traffic movements from the plant’s operations, the visual impact of the facility and the possibility of odours escaping.
Based on the feedback received from the public consultation, the plans were finalised and submitted to Northamptonshire County Council. The Planning Department subsequently approved the plans. Against all the odds, the Council’s planning department voted to approve the plans.