‘It’s a massive victory for us’

Whitwell Against Trucks public meeting.  Members of the committee meeting are from left David Lyon, Coun Duncan Kerr, Naomi Goldsmith, Martin Glossop, Kevin Godber and Julia Kirby  (w110908-6a)

Whitwell Against Trucks public meeting. Members of the committee meeting are from left David Lyon, Coun Duncan Kerr, Naomi Goldsmith, Martin Glossop, Kevin Godber and Julia Kirby (w110908-6a)

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A WHITWELL campaign group is celebrating after winning the fight to stop a biogas plant being built in the village.

Whitwell Against Alkane (WAA) were delighted to hear Alkane Energy had withdrawn its application to build the anaerobic digestion plant off Southfield Lane.

WAA spokesman Julia Kirby said the news was a ‘massive victory’ for the group.

“We are absolutely delighted. From our point of view we have saved the village from complete disaster - there would have been awful odours, bioaerosols and a drop in house prices, to name a few.”

“We also wouldn’t have been able to open our windows or hold street parties as we did for the Jubilee at the weekend. The whole village would’ve stunk like a cess pit.”

She added: “There were also the children to consider - it would’ve really affected their concentration and ability to learn.”

WAA launched its campaign in August 2010 after Alkane Energy announced plans to build the development on the former pit site in Whitwell.

The group said Alkane’s plans for anaerobic digester plant would be ‘detrimental’ to the enjoyment and health of residents in Whitwell and the surrounding area.

They also said the the plans for the biogas development would ‘sterilise’ the surrounding land, making future investment and development unlikely - if not impossible.

Julia said she believes the group’s positive and organised approach was a key factor behind their success.

“I can remember when we first started people telling us not to bother - that it was a done deal,” she said.

“But there were also so many other people behind us so we ran with the campaign because we knew we were doing the right thing.”

Since forming almost two years ago, the group has held a series of regular public meetings as well as a range of fundraising concerts to support their cause.

Julia said getting the right support from experts was crucial in giving the campaign the necessary credibility.

“It’s fine for any group to say why they are opposing something, but if you have got the expert facts to back up what you are saying then you have got more integrity,” she said.

“We were very lucky to have experts in certain fields who gave us advice for free and my thanks go to them and everyone who supported us with our campaign,” she said.

Julia said the group has raised around £5,000 following donations from members of the public who supported the campaign.

“We are very grateful to everyone who donated so generously,” she said.

“We will be holding a public meeting soon to discuss how we will redistribute this money to various worthy causes in the village,” she said.

She added: “We will also be holding a special victory party in Whitwell to celebrate our successful campaign - everyone is invited.”

The Guardian approached Alkane Energy for a comment on the withdrawal of their application but they declined to respond to our request before we went to press.